ACS:Law has announced that it will stop pursuing alleged file sharers after the law firm's anti-piracy chief claimed that he had been "subject to criminal attack".
Andrew Crossley said in a statement read out by Tim Ludbrook, a barrister employed by ACS:Law client MediaCAT, that he has been threatened on a number of occasions, according to a report on the BBC.
"I have ceased my work. I have been subject to criminal attack. My emails have been hacked. I have had death threats and bomb threats. It has caused immense hassle to me and my family," the statement read.
ACS:Law's tactic of sending letters to alleged file sharers demanding payment of fines has come under heavy scrutiny, and Crossley has been under investigation by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
Judge Birss, who is presiding over 27 cases brought by ACS:Law on behalf of MediaCAT at the patent court in London, said that he is sceptical of the change of heart.
"I want to tell you that I am not happy. I am getting the impression with every twist and turn since I started looking at these cases that there is a desire to avoid any judicial scrutiny," he said.
Crossley has denied that he did not intend fully to pursue the 27 cases, but said that the actions on behalf of MediaCAT will be his last in this area.
"It has always been my intention to litigate and, but for the fact that I have ceased this work, my intention was to litigate forcefully in these 27 cases," his statement explained.
Acting on behalf of the defendants, Michael Forrester of Ralli Solicitor’s intellectual property and IT teams said that there are likely to be many other innocent people who have been sent letters by ACS: Law. He urged them to come forward as they may be entitled to claim harassment.
"The Court may find a way of permanently stopping these firms from pursuing claims of copyright infringement in this way," he said.
"The legal basis for the claims made against these alleged file sharers involves complex legal and technical principles. These are extremely difficult for a lay person to understand and can mean an innocent person is being pursued. "
ACS:Law's entire email database was posted online in September as the company tried to recover from a distributed denial-of-service attack carried out by web group Anonymous as part of Operation Payback.
The Information Commissioner's Office is also investigating the incident.
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