Davenport Lyons update

(Background: Davenport Lyons are a law firm who specialise in sending threatening letters to members of the public accusing them of illegally downloading copyrighted material; also see my previous article Davenport Lyons, DigiProtect and Evil Angel — criminal scammers?)

TheLawyer.com has an article noting that Davenport Lyons are getting into the business of copyright litigation:

London media firm Davenport Lyons is bulking up its client list with porn companies as part of a push into copyright litigation.

Dispute resolution partners David Gore and Roger Billins, along with IP partner Brian Miller, have set up a group to advise copyright owners on internet IP breaches – and have begun sending cease-and-desist letters to people suspected of illegally downloading pornography, music and games from peer-to-peer networks.

The firm sent a letter demanding £500 from an elderly couple, accusing them of illegally downloading gay porn film Army F*ckers. The couple are protesting their innocence.

The firm’s clients include German company DigiProtect, which owns the rights to Army F*ckers.

Billins said the firm would accept porn companies as clients “as long as they can prove to us that they own the rights to the titles and that the content isn’t illegal”.

It’s not surprising that DL have no qualms about accepting porn companies as clients — they seem to have no moral standards at all.

BBC’s Watchdog programme have been investigating DL and note that their accusations are often groundless:

The letters are coming from a London-based company called Davenport Lyons, one of the most respected law firms in the UK. So much so, we’ve even used them here at Watchdog, but then we hadn’t received the 18-page letter it sent Barbara Burch, asking for £600 compensation. It accused the mother of two of breaching copyright on a computer game called Two Worlds. “This is not right, I’ve not done it,” Barbara told Watchdog. “I’ve never heard of the company, I’ve never heard of the game. It’s not possible because I was babysitting for a friend’s child at the time, so no, it’s not possible.”

But the letter from Davenport Lyons was quite convincing, saying that unauthorised use of the game had been traced to Barbara’s computer system. Davenport Lyons said it was acting on behalf of the games rights’ owner, Reality Pump, and it said it had proof of the date and time of the alleged breach of copyright. But when Watchdog sent Barbara’s computer to expert Nigel Pugh from Forensic Footprints, it turned out that the game had never been on her computer at all.

Alan Guest received one of Davenport Lyons’ letters, too. This time the firm said it was acting on behalf of another computer game company Atari, and Alan was accused of the illegal use of one of its games. He says: “I was 100 per cent confident I hadn’t downloaded it. But, you know at the same time, you never know what can happen if it’s your word against their word.”

Techdirt has the interesting news that DL’s clients DigiProtect apparently lied to porn company Evil Angel:

But the really interesting claim comes buried at the end of the article. The BBC contacted the porn company, Evil Angel, which hired DigiProtect, to get their thoughts on the negative reaction to the whole campaign, and the guy in charge claims that DigiProtect misrepresented the details to him, and he believed the pre-settlement demands were much lower than the £500 that is in the pre-settlement letter:

“It’s not my understanding that they ask for anything near that. I think the amount was $50 or €50. I would be very surprised and I wouldn’t be happy because it would mean it was completely misrepresented to me.”

Of course, this probably means that Evil Angel is only getting $50 (or maybe even less) per “settlement” leaving somewhere in the range of $700 (depends on the exchange rate) for Davenport Lyons and DigiProtect to split. For doing what? Getting some IP addresses and sending out auto-generated form letters. Nice margins, but sort of proves that these settlements have nothing to do with compensating the content creator.

That’s all for now on Davenport Lyons — I’ll post more news on them as I get it.

This entry was posted in Britain, computers, crime, digital rights, filesharing, society and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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