FAST calls for ACS:Law downloaders court case to continue

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FAST calls for ACS:Law downloaders court case to continue

Simon Quicke
The Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) has waded into the debate about the court case against file-sharers that is teetering on the brink of collapse.

The long-running saga over the attempts by ACS:Law and its partner company MediaCAT to bring illegal file-sharers to court after sending them letters demanding payment or the prospect of legal action.

But under a storm of protest about the letters and its methods ACS:Law announced in a statement to court recently that it was no longer offering representation in the copyright infringement cases, effectively withdrawing all of the cases.

FAST's general counsel Julian Heathcote-Hobbins said that it would be a mistake fort the case to be dropped and the focus on the tactics of ACS:Law had been unhelpful in highlighting the real issue.

"People should know that if they wish to 'lift' a product, it carries a risk and that is of being caught. We would never question that due process must be followed and other rights respected, but these reasons are a smoke screen that illegal file sharing should still be tackled," he said.

"Much press coverage is being given over to the problems, politics and methods employed to catch infringers, but what has been forgotten is that the appreciation of value in digital IP is so low, many think nothing of sharing paid for product with friends and the world at large for free," he added.

He said the case needed to be completed to prove technically that these sorts of offences could be punished in court and the message would be sent out to people that downloading copyrighted material was a punishable crime.

"Our argument is that the cases therefore need to be seen to conclusion so that if the judiciary criticises methods, these may be in turn improved meaning the innocent are not accused and those who persist in this activity can be held to account," he added.

The chances of the case, rather than the media storm around the methods of ACS:Law, to become the main focus took a further dip this morning with an ex-employee at the law firm alleging that they quit rather than send notice letters to people they knew were innocent.

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