Copyright enforcer MediaCat goes out of business

MediaCat, the company which hired controversial law firm ACS law has shut down.

ACS Law came to prominence for its tactic of sending thousands of what amounted to speculative invoices to Internet users it accused of downloading what it claimed was copyrighted material.

The campaign miffed online communities who were subsequently delighted to find that ACS Law left its servers wide open to the Internet, a snafu that saw the personal emails of its lead lawyer, Andrew Crossley plastered all over the web. And very unsavoury reading they made, too.

Court cases brought by Crossley then descended into chaos when the harassed lawyer threw in the towel during a hearing at the Patent Court in London.

In a statement read to the court, Crossley claimed he had to give up because of the harassment. "I have ceased my work," he wrote. "I have been subject to criminal attack. My e-mails have been hacked. I have had death threats and bomb threats," he whined.

The hearing was part of a case pitting MediaCat against 27 suspected illegal file-sharers but Judge Birss QC refused a motion on behalf of MediaCat to drop the cases altogether last month.

"I want to tell you that I am not happy," the judge said. "I am getting the impression with every twist and turn since I started looking at these cases that there is a desire to avoid any judicial scrutiny."

ACS Law sent out thousands of letters on the back of data obtained from ISPs. The letters suggested victims cough up £500 or face legal action, but the tactic caused a backlash online.

The fim's email leakage also prompted an investigation over its security, as it also involved the leak of details of 10,000 UK-based broadband customers - many of whom were accused of downloading such pornographic fare as: To The Manor Porn and Catch Her In The Eye.

Judge Birss is to deliver a ruling in the ongoing case this Tuesday and there is a possibility that ACS Law will be liable for costs.

Some of the defendants may also sue Crossley for harassment.