A lawyer of UK-based law firm ACS: Law has withdrawn from pursuing alleged illegal file-sharers, citing death threats from hackers.
Solicitor Andrew Crossley has told the patent court in London that he is withdrawing from the 26 cases ACS: Law had brought against the illegal file-sharers on behalf of it's client MediaCAT, citing criminal attacks and bomb threats as the primary reasons.
I have ceased my work...I have been subject to criminal attack. My e-mails have been hacked. I have had death threats and bomb threats, Crossley said in the statement, read to the court by MediaCAT's barrister Tim Ludbrook.
The website of ACS: Law was the victim of hack attack last September and it was left red-faced when it accidentally exposed thousands of its emails, which detailed all the people it was pursuing and the pornographic films they were accused of downloading for free, as the website went live again.
The data breach is being currently investigated by the Information Commissioner and Crossley could face a hefty fine.
Crossley is also the subject to an ongoing investigation by the Solicitors Regulation Authority following complaints that he is seeking to make money with no intention of taking any defendants to court.
The deal between ACS: Law and MediaCAT, which has signed deals with various copyright holders allowing it to pursue copyright infringement cases on their behalf, has also been widely criticized.
According to the deal, copyright owners would receive a 30 percent share of any recouped revenue while ACS: Law takes a 65 percent share. The defendants who received letters of the alleged copyright violations were given the choice of paying a fine of around £500 or going to court.
Incidentally, MediaCAT recently expressed desire to drop the cases against the defendants but the court is unhappy over the way MediaCAT is behaving.
Judge Birss, who is hearing the copyright violation cases, has called the behavior of MediaCAT mind boggling and said it is unclear how the cases can now be dropped without a direct request by the copyright holders.
The judge said he is thinking of banning MediaCAT from sending any more such letters until the issues raised by the cases had been resolved.
Meanwhile, law firm Ralli, which is representing some of the defendants in the illegal file-sharing case, said it has suggested its clients to pursue ACS: Law for harassment.
The judge said it is unclear how the cases can now be dropped without a direct request by the copyright holders.
Barrister Guy Tritton, who is representing the defendants, has also questioned why ACS: Law has described MediaCAT as a copyright protection society - a title that he said was misleading.
The case is expected to be decided by this weekend.