Frequently Asked Questions
Update: ACS:LAW have withdrawn from pursuing filesharers. Keep letters on file and don't pay them a penny.
I have received a letter accusing me of filesharing and asking for a lot of money, help!
First off, stay calm. You're not the first or last person to receive a letter. Read through as much information as you can on the internet before deciding how to act.
I read somewhere that this is a scam, is that true?
No... This is technically not a scam, and it should not be treated like one.
I've never heard of filesharing/ bittorrent/ peer to peer (P2P) networks, what are they?
Peer to peer (P2P) networks are networks set up to share files. To put it simply: one person sends one bit of a file to another person ('peer'). This makes it easy for multiple people to share files over the internet. While downloading a file over p2p, you are at the same time uploading parts of the file to other peers. Bittorrent is one method of sharing files that uses peer to peer networks. Others include eMule, eDonkey, Limewire, gnutella, and several other variants. The general act of using a P2P network is called filesharing.
Although there are perfectly legal uses for P2P networks, it's easy for them to be abused.
Further reading: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peer_to_peer
I've never downloaded any copyrighted material, how did I get this letter?
Therir claim is not that you downloaded anything. They claim that your internet connection was used on a P2P network to upload the content. However, it's quite possible that neither occurred.
I have never heard of the game/ song/ film I'm accused of uploading, how could this have happened?
It is possible that someone else may have commited the offence, using your internet connection. It's is also possible that someone may have hacked your wireless network, even if it is secured. There are many more technical ways it may have occurred.
I don't have any knowledge of the infringement occurring on my network/ internet connecion, should I pay?
Absolutely NOT! If you didn't commit the infringement, you have no reason to worry. Also note they have no strong evidence that you did anything. Please note that there are some cases where people have paid up and received another claim afterwards, so paying up will not necessarily make this go away.
Can I really be held responsible if I didn't commit the offence?
Yes and no. Section 16(2) of the Copyright, Designs and Patents act (CDPA) requires you to directly infringe on the copyright, or authorise someone else to do so. If you didn't commit the offence, and didn't allow anyone else to, then you have no reason to be worried, you cannot be held responsible.
CDPA can be found at: http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts1988/UKpga_19880048_en_1.htm
Should I go and see my solicitor?
That's up to you, really. It will cost you a lot of money, and unless they are specialists in IP/ intellectual property rights they may be no better help than anyone else. If you can get free advice, go for it.
Should I go to my local Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB)?
A trip to the CAB may be worthwhile. Do keep in mind though that they may lack specialised knowledge required to deal with cases like this.
Should I even reply to the letter?
Yes. Under section 4.1 of the pre-action protocol, you should respond as soon as is reasonably possible, within the given time limit.
A copy of the pre-action protocol is available at http://acs-law.org.uk/preaction.pdf
How should I reply to their letters?
There is a template letter available on the templates & contacts page. Feel free to use it and edit it how you please.
I received another letter, what should I do now?
Stick to your guns. They have no evidence you did it. See the templates & contacts page for a letter of denial 2 (LOD2) template. This template can be used, if required, for any future denials. Feel free to edit it how you want.
Note that it is unlikely they will listen to what you say. Just stick to your previous points and don't give out more information than is required.
In their second letter, they've asked for my router model number/ if I have a secured wireless network etc. what should I say?
Don't give them any more information than is required. Keep the letter short and to the point, denying any accusations. Under UK law you're not obliged to provide them with evidence to prove your innocence. It's up to them to prove your guilt.
So who has gathered my IP address?
Logistep, a Swiss based firm gather the IP addresses for most of the game companies mentioned in the letters. Digiprotect gather the data for the illicit movies mentioned in the letters.
Is an IP address solid proof?
This is a much debated topic. An IP address does not identify a person, only an internet connection. Whereas they have your IP address, they have no proof that you were even at your computer at the time of the offence.
If I don't pay up, will I go to jail, or get a criminal record?
There is absolutely NO chance of going to jail. The proceedings Davenport Lyons or ACS:Law are threatening to bring against you are civil. This also means there is no chance of getting a criminal record.
Has anyone actually been to court?
Supposedly, 5 cases have been to court with Davenport Lyons. There is very little information on these cases, and no proof that they even existed. Furthermore, they were all default judgements – the accused did not turn up to defend themselves, so the judge had little choice but to award Davenport Lyons. ACS have not yet taken a case to court.
What are my chances of being taken to court?
Before there is even a chance of this happening, you will receive at least 2 or even 3 letters. ACS have not taken anyone to court yet. So far, the threat of court action is being used to frighten people into paying.
I haven't received a letter from Davenport Lyons in a while. What's happened?
Although there is no proof that Davenport Lyons have stopped operating, it appears as though ACS law has taken over, and Davenport won't be sending out more letters. However, neither DL nor ACS have confirmed or denied this.
I paid up, is there any way I can get my money back?
Unfortunately, no. By paying you have admitted to being guilty of their claim.
Okay, they got me. I actually did what the letter is accusing me of.
In that case we can't really give you any advice, except to go and speak to a solicitor.
I'm still unsure about what to do, where can I get more help?
There are several places online where people are happy to help:
- Ongoing forum thread at Slyck.
- Chatroom dedicated to the recipients of these letters. Please remember to change your nickname once in the chatroom.
– Reading room: vast amounts of reading covering the background and various aspects of these cases.
Is there any way I can try and help stop this happening to more people?
Yes. There are several ways you can help. You can write to your MP, Which? (a consumer magazine which has shown interest in these cases), Solicitors Regulation Authority and the Information Commissioner's Office and any other individual or organisation you think might be able to help spread the word about this. If you have technical or legal expertise, you may be able to help fight this – please chat to a moderator in the chatroom, they will be able to direct you to the right people to speak to.
If you require template letters and contact information, they can be found on the templates & contacts page.