Peer to Peer: Litigation Begins

September 7, 2009

According to the ACS Law web site, a number of claims against alleged illegal downloaders have now been issued and are in the process of being served. The firm’s web site states:

the first batch claims have been prepared and were filed at court on Friday, 4 September 2009. Service of the proceedings will be made by first class post and will be with defendants by Tuesday, 8 September 2009 at the very latest.

The second batch of defendants will be selected on Monday, 14 September 2009.  

Our letters of claim have resulted in a significant number of payments from peer-to-peer copyright infringers and has led to the recovery of damages for our music, games and film clients worldwide. This is an exciting time for anti-piracy organisations, the movement is clearly gathering momentum with strong victories in the US, Germany and Sweden. 

The UK will play its part. We have been instructed by various clients to issue court proceedings against identified peer-to-peer copyright infringers. In some cases, in a final effort to avoid litigation and resolve cases early, we have issued settlement offers under Part 36 of the Civil Procedure Rules. Other cases will be going straight to issue, depending on the circumstances of individual cases. The first batch of proceedings will be issued next month. At ACS Law, we strive to be pro-active for our clients and will not resile from the need to issue proceedings when attempts to avoid litigation have failed.’ 

Andrew Crossley from ACS Law ( spoke to Laurence Eastham, Editor of the SCL web site, about the claims.  He revealed that a very considerable volume of letters had been sent out in relation to alleged breaches, 6, 500 in all. His clients included Reality Pump, Topware Interactive and Techland. Each client, as is their right, had different views on the right course to follow but all accepted that proceedings would be issued when all other avenues have been exhausted. The proceedings so far issued had been issued in the Central London County Court. Andrew would not reveal the number of case in which proceedings had been issued.

Andrew Crossley was able to lay a couple of claims to rest. First, the claims were not in respect of downloads per se, but in respect of uploads (albeit obviously following a download); the nub of the complaint related to the ‘making available’ of the copyright material. Second, despite what was suggested on a number of web sites and discussion fora, the letters originally sent out were not demands for money but invitations to enter into a compromise. Thirdly, the Part 36 letters that had been sent to a number of alleged infringers were not seeking a set amount in full and final settlement (some reports suggest that £500 was sought) but sought amounts which varied by reference to the media product concerned and the number of identified instances of transgression of the copyright holders rights.

Andrew Crossley was at pains to point out that his intention was to give everyone every opportunity to settle where appropriate. While some cases had been dropped, proceedings had been issued against some and more would be issued. He was firmly of the view that the damages which are likely to be awarded are likely to far exceed the amount mentioned in the Part 36 offer where such an offer has been made.

The claims have received wide publicity, with doubts being cast on the reliability of the evidence on which the claims are based, particularly by the consumer organisation Which.