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Solicitor Offers FREE Defence for Victims of UK Internet Piracy Letters

Friday, March 20th, 2015 (11:01 am) - Score 5,018

Michael Coyle of London-based law firm Lawdit Solicitors, which has a lot of experience defending broadband users in the United Kingdom against copyright trolls, has offered to help support those who receive bullying “speculative invoice” letters from Rights Holders that demand money in order to settle alleged Internet piracy abuses.

Over the years we’ve seen many different examples of Rights Holders hiring the service of dubious organisations and law firms in order to target people suspected of committing Internet copyright infringement, usually with threatening letters about possible court action (unless you pay up).

Most such cases are found by monitoring the sharing of copyright content on public P2P BitTorrent file sharing networks and then linking related IP addresses back to an ISP, which is later forced through the courts to reveal the details of any associated customers.

But the use of IP address based evidence is notoriously unreliable, not least because such addresses can be faked, redirected, may be generally incorrect due to timing errors or could connect to a shared network (e.g. family home, office LAN or public WiFi), all of which makes accurately identifying the actual culprit very challenging.

Lately several broadband ISPs in the UK, such as Sky Broadband and Virgin Media, have been similarly targeted by firms such as GoldenEye International (Mircom) and TCYK LLC (example). But now Michael Coyle has offered to help for free, well.. almost free, so long as you donate in support of his London Marathon run.

Michael Coyle said (TorrentFreak):

I am a Copyright Solicitor and regularly enforce copyright where it has been infringed. People should respect the copyright of third parties. However, are some copyright holders abusing the great British public?

The amounts are quite staggering. In the most recent campaign 2500 letters were sent out. Typical sums demanded are in the range of £500 to £1000. If everyone pays say £700.00 this would generate £1,750,000 which is not bad even for the porn industry.

The tactic is to scare people into paying the sums by threatening to issue court proceedings. If this does not work, proceedings are not normally issued. This is because the economic model for speculative invoicing means that it is more profitable to collect monies from those who pay rather than incur substantial costs in pursuing those who do not pay in court. Where proceedings are issued, they are not pursued if a default judgment cannot be obtained.”

Coyle said that he hopes this small gesture will, alongside the separate efforts from Citizens Advice, help to put a dent in the current practice. But he also concedes that ultimately such a culture may only be changed by an act of parliament and right now there’s no sign of any support for that.

It’s worth pointing out that all of the major broadband ISPs have also signed up to introduce a new Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme (VCAP), which in the coming months will start sending warning letters to those suspected of piracy (here). But the VCAP letters contain no threats or demands for money and should only act as an “education programme“, although this probably won’t stop copyright trolls from sending their own letters.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
7 Responses
  1. Avatar Bob2002 says:

    I think TorrentFreak also recommend downloading a copy of “The Speculative Invoicing Handbook Second Edition” PDF for cases like these.

  2. Avatar Billy says:

    Do you have a magnet link for that?

  3. Avatar David C says:

    i’ve recently been hit by this and have just donated incase the need arises

  4. Avatar Berwick says:

    Contacted Michael Coyle/Lawdit when we received these letters. Offered help on the basis that we made a donation to his marathon run which we duly did. Since then despite several repeated attempts to contact Michael/Lawdit we have heard nothing. Really disappointing as this link makes it seem like there is someone to help those who are genuine victims of this scam, have no idea how to address it and are worried about how to manage it.
    It would be better for Michael/Lawdit to be upfront and say they cannot assist personally but post helpful advice on how to deal with these nasty companies.
    He’s received a donation, happy to help a good cause, but frustrating that we were assured of help and haven’t received it.
    Beware anyone who thinks this is a solution, go to the Citizens Advice site instead.

    1. Avatar Darren says:

      Michael helped me,replied to my emails,sent a letter to TCYK.He must be very busy at the moment.

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