Ralli are advising hundreds of consumers in relation to a group action for harassment following letters from ACS:Law accusing those individuals of illegal filesharing and copyright infringement.

Ralli have been contacted by hundreds of consumers who wish to discuss whether letters sent to them alleging copyright infringement over “peer to peer” networks amount to harassment.

The latest development in this long running matter was the hearing yesterday at the Patents County Court of 27 “peer to peer” test cases filed by ACS:Law for its client, Media CAT Limited.
 
At the hearing, the Claimant, Media CAT Ltd tried through its lawyers, ACS:Law, to discontinue the proceedings against alleged infringers. Initially, 27 claims were issued but a small number have now been settled by consent. The first hearing on this issue was held on 17 January 2011, when His Honour Judge Birss QC refused to allow these claims to be dropped in the way proposed by the Claimant without further consideration.

During the second hearing, further issues were raised, including the activities of GCB Limited, who have started to contact consumers with similar allegations. Commenting on the hearing, Michael Forrester of national law firm Ralli’s Intellectual Property and IT law team stated that:
 
“We raised issues at the hearing relating to GCB Ltd as a number of concerned consumers have contacted us about this company pursuing them for copyright infringement. We are concerned that our clients will be subject to a second round of allegations from the same disputed facts.”
 
Ralli represents a number of the defendants involved in these claims who strongly protest their innocence. They have also begun work on a group action for those consumers who have received correspondence accusing them of copyright infringement in this way and feel harassed by these allegations.
 
“The Court was told yesterday that ACS:Law, GCB Ltd and all other companies have stopped sending out letters to consumers. This is a welcome step forward, but we also need some comfort for the many people who have already received a letter and continue to protest their innocence. Those people must wait a little longer for the Court’s decision.”
 
“The Court may find a way of permanently stopping these firms from pursuing claims of copyright infringement in this way. We are dealing with cases where consumers have explained how they cannot possibly have uploaded or downloaded copyright protected material, but they are still pursued.”

“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 mean an innocent person is being pursued.”

“It can be incredibly upsetting for people to receive these letters and they may well have a claim in harassment, so I am urging them to come forward.”

Judgment has been reserved, but is expected to be handed down in the next few weeks.

For further information please contact Michael Forrester on 0161 832 6131