By Max Clarke

A series of lawsuits against peer-to-peer file sharers brought by ACS: Law on behalf of Media CAT have today been dropped following an undisclosed settlement.

“We considered from an early stage that these actions against our clients were not brought correctly. The Judgment and eventual settlement supports our view in all material respects,” said Michael Forrester, solicitor at Ralli who acted on behalf of several of the defendants.

ACS: Law received extensive media coverage for their high profile lawsuits serving to make examples of individual file sharers in a bid to clamp down software piracy. While the move attracted support from government and from intellectual property holders under the Federation Against Software Theft, they had been blasted by others for making accusations ‘based on untested legal and factual propositions and issues of technology’ that amounted to harassment.

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

“ACS:Law’s interest is specifically mentioned,” commented the Judge, “because of course they receive 65% of the revenues from the letter writing exercise. In fact Media CAT’s financial interest is actually much less than that of ACS:Law.

“Whether it was intended to or not, I cannot imagine a system better designed to create disincentives to test the issues in court. Why take cases to court and test the assertions when one can just write more letters and collect payments from a proportion of the recipients?”

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