More innocent ‘pirates’ are receiving legal letters this week accusing them of illegally sharing porn and music files, according to Which? Computing.
Over the past year, London law firm ACS Law has contacted thousands of people who it claims have been illegally sharing copyright material on everything from video games to German techno music. The letters offer the recipients the chance to ‘settle’ the claim by paying a compensation fee of around £500 to end the matter.
Find out what to do if you’re accused of file-sharing.
The latest batch of letters come as the government’s controversial Digital Economy Bill is being debated, which includes plans that could see suspected file sharers disconnected from the internet.
ACS Law says its letter writing campaign is protecting the copyright of its clients. But Which? Computing had heard from more than 150 consumers who believed they had been wrongly accused, with even more getting in touch as a result of these latest letters.
Guilty until proven innocent
One wrote: ‘My 78 year-old father yesterday received a letter from ACS law demanding £500 for a porn file he is alleged to have downloaded. He doesn’t even know what file sharing or bittorrent is so has certainly not done this himself or given anyone else permission to use his computer to do such a thing.’
Another said: ‘I have never been in trouble for anything and I am at my wits’ end. I feel guilty even though I am not.’
Meanwhile, the government is considering plans that would see consumers warned about file sharing before legal measures are taken. But this won’t stop law firms from writing to consumers, asking them to pay cash up front to settle a file-sharing accusation.
Frightened into paying up
Which? Technology Editor Matt Bath says: ‘Innocent consumers are being threatened with legal action for copyright infringements they not only haven’t committed, but wouldn’t know how to commit. Which? is concerned that many people will be frightened into paying up rather than facing the stress of a court battle.
‘Over 150 people have turned to Which? for help already. We’d like to see an end to these letters being sent to innocent people and encourage copyright owners to focus their attention on those who are continually breaking the law.’
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