Tuesday 8 February 2011

Media CAT saga: now for the obituary

The popular media in the UK have reported extensively on the termination of the unpopular proceedings -- call them bullying, copyright trolling, public opinion blunder or what you will -- brought by Media CAT, as represented by Andrew Crossley (ACS:Law), against 26 of the large number of defendants who were alleged to have infringed copyright in porn films by means of illicit file-sharing (see eg BBC, ZDNet, Guardian).  Today, in Media C.A.T. Limited v Malcolm Adams, Katherine Taylor, Hooper, Mitchell Chance, Miss Gonzalles Romeo, Mark Jimack, Miss Maria Shewan, Keith Wood, William Wickam, Sean Allen, Christopher Beck, Dave Cundall, Danny Cowan, Glyn Bentley, Pana Begum, Peter Armitage, Allan Billington, James Bryant, Julia Abbott , Christopher Birkett, M Brunt, Gareth Bacon, Wayne Bacon, Michelle McGlade, Elaine Cox, David Bick [2011] EWPCC 006 Judge Colin Birss QC, in the Patents County Court, delivered the last word on the subject:
"114.      On 26th January I received a letter from ACS:Law.  It included copies of documents relating to the firm’s retainer with Media CAT on the basis that I had asked to see them.  In fact I had not asked to see them, the defendants had and I had not ordered them to be produced, ACS:Law had volunteered.  In any event the letter also states that Media CAT has ceased trading as it has become insolvent and that ACS:Law is no longer instructed save to perfect consent orders already notified to the court.  The letter concludes with a statement that the claimant has asked Mr Crossley to notify the court that it has ceased all activities and will not at any time in the future be sending letters or pursuing anyone in relation to the alleged infringements of copyright.  Also ACS:Law will close permanently on 31st January 2011 and there will be no successor practice".
The judgment is a good deal longer and more interesting than one might imagine.  It explains the status of the mysterious Media CAT and considers whether the court might have been able to make a novel order, requiring Media CAT to stop writing any further letters demanding £495 a shot in settlement of the alleged infringement claims (or having them sent on its behalf) at least until they had returned to court with a properly pleaded Particulars of Claim which could be considered.  It also shows how well-equipped the Patents County Court is to handle litigation of this nature in a fair and responsible manner.

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