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By: MarkJ - 27 August, 2010 (7:19 AM)
p2p copyright uk ISP file sharing lawSolicitors at Ralli, a national UK law firm, are trying to rally gain support for pursuing Andrew Crossley's rival legal firm ACS:Law as part of a "group action for harassment" suit against their controversial illegal broadband ISP file sharing threat letters. Earlier this week the Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA) referred ACS:Law to a Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) (here) after it sent "bullying" letters to those it had accused of having abused their internet connections for "illegal" copyright file sharing (p2p) activity.

ACS:Law is believed to have sent letters to thousands of ISP customers in the UK, many of which demanded significant settlement payments (e.g. £500). Those who refused to pay were warned that they could be taken to court, which in reality is an expensive process and rarely ever happened.

Posting on ISPreview.co.uk's forum yesterday (here), Ralli said that it was currently gathering clients with a view to launching a group action for harassment against ACS:Law as a result of the letters it sent. Ralli is already known to be advising some of those affected and wants others to come forward (contact email - harassment@ralli.co.uk).

Michael Forrester, of Ralli's Intellectual Property and Harassment Law teams, commented:

"The legal basis for the claims being made against these alleged file sharers involves complex legal and technical principles. These are extremely difficult for a lay person to understand and can often mean that an innocent person is being pursued.

We are advising people who have received these letters but have never even heard of the media they are supposed to have obtained. For example, a middle aged gentleman who has been accused of obtaining dance music when he has no idea what the genre is, let alone the artist!

It can be incredibly upsetting for people to receive such letters and they may well have a claim for harassment against ACS Law so I am urging them to come forward."

This kind of action can be incredibly difficult to tackle and Ralli would need a larger pool of people before they could feasibly take it further, hence today's call. Forrester also noted that a similar lawsuit is currently being brought in the USA, which admittedly has a different legal system, involving several filmmakers and over 14,000 individuals where settlements of up to £2,500 are being discussed.
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