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Sends out questionnaire to those caught up in its mass litigation campaign asking them to submit their PCs to a forensic examination, as well as confirming details about their Internet connection, even though they may be innocent.ACS Law, the infamous UK-based law firm that “specializes in assisting intellectual property rights holders exploit and enforce their rights globally,” but better known for its recent mass litigation campaign targeting illegal file-sharers, is now asking those that refute its piracy claims to complete a questionnaire and submitting their PCs to forensic examination.The letters ask alleged file-sharers to confirm that they are the owner of the Internet connection, state whether their wireless connection is secured or unsecured, if they share it with anybody else, and whether or not they are using file-sharing software and why. Asking them to answer the latter question without legal counsel alone should be a cause for concern.ACS Law also asks they are willing for their computers to undergo forensic analysis.According to Which?, the largest consumer body in the UK, the letters are the latest round of “bullying tactics” being used by ACS Law.“I think it is outrageous that ACS Law is asking consumers to provide evidence to support the claims that ACS Law is making on their clients’ behalf, especially since many of the recipients may not have legal representation,” says Deborah Prince, Which?’s head of legal affairs. “I think its tactics are really underhand here. ACS Law should have all the evidence it needs before making these allegations. If it doesn’t, then it shouldn’t be asking unrepresented consumers to provide that evidence!”Prince suggests that anyone who receives one of these questionnaires should write to ACS Law restating their innocence, providing such evidence as they can to prove it wasn’t them.They should also explain that they are not willing to complete the questionnaire because it could be used to prove their clients’ claim of illegal file-sharing rather than their innocence. The accused are always innocent until proven guilty, not the other way around.“We feel that the questionnaire is intimidatory, oppressive and bullying, and there’s no legal obligation for anyone to fill out this questionnaire,” adds Michael Coyle, a UK attorney from Lawdit Solicitors, the Southampton-based legal firm specializing in intellectual property, internet and corporate law.He added that it was best to simply ignore their warning letters, that to date none of his clients that have been accused by ACS Law have had a claim filed against them.“Over the last two years, I’ve spoken to over a thousand people who have been accused of illegal file sharing, and we have about 200 people who have been similarly accused on our books,” he said. “ACS Law has never issued a claim against any of them.”ACS Law first announced its plans to target some 15,000 alleged illegal file-sharers across the UK last December as part of a “revolutionary business model that “generates revenue for rights holders and effectively decreases copyright infringement in a measurable and sustainable way” unlike what it says are “costly and ineffective” anti-piracy measures used by other companies.After careful review it later decided to drop a number of those cases, limiting their lawsuits only to those it deemed “viable” or “beneficial to its clients,” but a few weeks later Which? pointed out that so far at least 150 people claimed to have been wrongly accused, with even more choosing to come forward after hearing they’re not alone.As usual, the truth is of little consequence. The only thing ACS Law seems to care about it getting people to settle with minimal effort. These new questionnaires only help to further that goal.
I think it is outrageous that ACS Law is asking consumers to provide evidence to support the claims that ACS Law is making on their clients' behalf, especially since many of the recipients may not have legal representation. I think its tactics are really underhand here. ACS Law should have all the evidence it needs before making these allegations. If it doesn't, then it shouldn't be asking unrepresented consumers to provide that evidence!