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ACS:Law, the now the controversial legal firm which works for various content owners in anti-file-sharing litigation, has failed in an attempt to secure a default judgment against eight alleged file-sharers. ACS:Law had filed the actions on behalf of Media CAT and said all eight defendants had failed to respond. ACS law contended that the court should therefore find in their client’s favour by default. Judge Colin Birss QC did not concur noting that three of the defendants had actually responded and also noting that ACS failed to provide evidence that any action had been taken against three others. But perhaps more importantly Judge Birss ruled that in copyright actions only a copyright owner or exclusive licensee can sue (which is why when trade bodies such as the BPI or in the USA the RIAA lead copyright litigation the actual lawsuit lists the labels they represent as plaintiffs): in the current case Media CAT was merely an agency that represents content owners and thus could not bring the actions.
Judge Briss also commented on ACS:Law’s arguments that even if the alleged downloads were not undertaken by the named defendants, they could still be guilty of copyright infringement for allowing (or authorising) others such as other family members or friends to use their PC or wi-fi access. ACS:Law contended that this would amount to authorising infringement. Whilst the point is untested in UK courts, Judge Birss was unimpressed, saying in his judgement: “The plea that ‘allowing’ others to infringe is itself an act restricted by s16 (1)(a) and 17 of the 1988 [Copyright, Design & Patents] Act is simply wrong. The term used by those sections of the Act is ‘authorising’ and the difference may be very important if the allegation is about unauthorised use of an internet router by third parties”. Rejecting all eight of ACS:Law’s claims for default judgements, Judge Birss said: “I should end by recording that I am not sorry to have reached the conclusion I have in refusing all the requests for default judgment”.
See Torrentfreak here: