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Davenport Lyons - what can we do as a group?

PostPosted: Thu Nov 20, 2008 1:46 pm
by penumbra
So, I thought I'd start a new thread about what people who are being innocently accused can do, as a community, to try and get Davenport Lyons to stop using these very dodgy tactics of theirs. This is not meant to be a guide about how to handle yourself with Davenport Lyons. Sound advice regarding that is available from Lawdit. There is also a companion post regarding that here.

Feel free to chip in with your suggestions, but can I suggest to the mods that we have a sticky first post, that can have people's ideas incorporated as we go along?

Why the hell should I bother?

Quite right, why should you bother? You've just been posted a very scary threat of legal action and you're having enough of a problem keeping your lunch down, never mind all of this campaigning nonsense. Well, aside from your personal battle with Davenport Lyons, there is a larger issue at hand. People like Davenport Lyons and Digiprotect have shown previously that they will not stop accusing innocent people until the local authorities take action against their mass mailing tactics like they have in Norway, Germany and Italy. The rest of the industry quite rightly frown on the tactics of Logistep, Digiprotect and Davenport Lyons.

Furthermore, if you manage to clear with your name with them this time - what's to stop them simply sending another letter when they think they've caught you at it again kicking yet another round of letters off?

Alright, fine where should I start?

There are two bodies where you should start.

(1)The Information Commissioner's office
There is an excellent post over at Lawdit, by Michael Cole entitled Why the Information Commisioner has let you down. This has the postal address of the Information Commisioner in the final paragraph. The post explains exactly what the IC is doing wrong, and what to say in your letter about the issue. According to the register article about the recent pornography letters there are extra considerations when your personal data is mixed in with questions of sex and sexuality.

There is a template letter available to help you do this. It can be found at the bottom of this Torrentfreak article. There is also a petition to the Prime Minister to sign, asking him to ensure the Information Commissioner does his job.

and

(2)The Solicitors Regulation Authority.
In your letter to the Solicitors regulation Authority you will want to make these points:
  • With a list of 25,000 names, innocent people may find themselves bombarded with threatening letters from lawyers which make them pay up rather than assert their innocence. Innocent people can be and have been targeted and Davenport Lyons has already had to back down, according to Which magazine's experience with Gill and Ken Murdoch.
  • The distribution of obscene content for free on the internet where it is available to minors is probably illegal, at the very least it is unethical. Davenport Lyons latest clients, Digiprotect have done just this deliberately for the purposes of catching people subsequently distributing their content. Furthermore, John Stagliano (the maker of some of the "works") is under investigation under obscenity laws in the US for distributing some of the items on the leaked Digiprotect contract in the proper manner.
  • The time period Davenport Lyons waits before sending out the infringement notice (6-7 months) means that very few people who receive a letter will still have computer logs available of their activity at the time of their alleged infringement. It also devalues any forensic analysis performed of the accused's hard drive. This means anyone innocent who finds themselves accused, will be far less likley to be able to mount an adequate defence to Davenport Lyons' claims of infringement.
This is behaviour which is clearly at risk of bringing the profession into disrepute (Rule 1.06 in the code of conduct)

What then?

Think of anyone else who could be interested / have the power to do something. Writetothem.com will tell you your local MP and MEP. Write to them both with your concerns. Writetothem.com even provides a direct gateway to fax them directly and even has a list of Lords along with their interests. You should be making the same points as you make above, namlely that
  • an IP address identifies the connection, not the perpetrator.
  • that a leaked contract indicates Davenport Lyons' clients, Digiprotect, are possibly making hardcore pornography available to minors (as admitted by the undertaking they try to get you to sign)
  • that their methods are less than 100% accurate.
  • that the time period Davenport Lyons waits means you won't be able to mount an adequate defence if you tried
  • that EU data protection legislation should be being interpreted in the UK as the EU suggests, i.e that "on 29 January 2008 the ECJ held that Community law does not require member states to oblige ISPs to disclose details of suspected file-sharers to enable a copyright owner to bring civil proceedings", as detailed by the Lawdit article
If they don't reply within 2 weeks, write again using their snail mail address as well.

The bbfc (British Board of Film Classification)might be interested in the fact that hardcore pornography is being distributed in such a way as to make it available to minors, although they mention that your local trading standards can help in terms of any offence that may be happening under film classification laws. The police may also be interested if a criminal act is being perpetrated.

Spread the word to the media. Pick a paper, find out their submissions email and email them about what's happening. The Torrentfreakand the Register article are both very good things to point at. There are also some ideas in my earlier forum post. Make the point that if all 25,000 people who Davenport Lyons apparently has the details of pay £500, they stand to make £12.5 million in fines. Contact Watchdog, BBC news, Sky news, Channel 4 news etc with your story. If they notice a surge in these stories, they are far more likely to cover it and in turn, those in power (the MP/MEP you wrote to earlier) are more likely to sit up and take note.

Please limit discussion to here: Davenport Lyons Lawsuit Discussion Thread.