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Are anti-piracy law firms out of order?

1 October 2010

ACS Law is known for its pursuit of alleged illegal file-sharers by identifying ‘offending’ IP addresses, then forcing ISPs to disclose details of their corresponding subscribers, before demanding compensation for copyright breaches.

This week, ACS suffered an attack on its website, designed to make the site unavailable. During efforts to bring it back online, various documents became publicly accessible, including unencrypted users’ details…with a range of consequences for ACS (and BT).

One issue here is whether ‘Norwich Pharmacal Orders’, typically used to compel ISPs to disclose information, are too freely granted. Amongst other criteria, the applicant has to show that the data requested is relevant to a possible claim, and disclosure is in the interests of justice. The chances of refusal may have been higher if the ISPs had defended ACS’ application, for evidential and confidentiality reasons, rather than taking the usual ‘don’t agree but don’t oppose’ stance!

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