It's the weekend and Broadband Genie is enjoying a well-deserved break, but this story was too good to wait until Monday. ACS:Law, the infamous law firm which has been sending out dubious letters threatening to take people to court for file sharing, has had a massive database of its emails leaked onto the web.

The ACS:Law web site was taken down by a denial of service (DDoS) attack earlier in the week, an event described by boss Andrew Crossley as "typical rubbish from pirates". He's likely to have changed his tune now because someone discovered that before the site was restored a backup file containing the emails had been left in an open directory. Inevitably this was downloaded and widely distributed on file sharing networks.
The collection includes the incoming and outgoing emails of Andrew Crossley and his employees, complete with attachments, and contains masses of information about how ACS:Law goes about its business and how much money it makes, plus embarrassing personal details.

The leak reveals Crossley discussing how he might buy a Ferrari (he decides on a less impressive Jeep in the end) and talk about how the company can most efficiently track and record the thousands of alleged offenders, with an amusing exchange where he thinks two people can process 200 cases a day and is politely informed by an employee that they would have to work without breaks to achieve this target.
There are abusive emails to his ex-wife, personal contact details, passwords to Paypal and other sites, and it also appears that Crossley is a fan of loopy conspiracy theorist David Icke. Perhaps those inter-dimensional lizards are also guilty of file sharing?

Data protection breach

More seriously there is discussion about how they could "scare" people into paying by pursuing them directly, and allegedly an email with attached file containing the names and addresses of thousands of Sky broadband users (plus the names of pornographic movies they're supposed to have downloaded) which if true constitutes a serious breach of the data protection act.

File sharing news site Torrent Freak is busy sifting through the messages and has uncovered all kinds of worrying information, including emails from couples complaining that accusations of gay porn downloads have caused trouble with their marriage and desperate letters from people who can't afford the fines.

The leak further confirms the suspicion that ACS:Law seems more concerned about how much money it can get than protecting intellectual property. One email found by TF shows the company accepting a settlement figure despite having acknowledged the accused wasn't responsible for any infringment, and giving up on chasing someone else because they're bankrupt and won't be able to pay. It also reveals that in some cases Crossley's firm is netting over 50% of the cash received, the rest being split between the copyright owner and other third parties

At a time when the company is under investigation from the SRA for its questionable tactics this has to come as a major embarrassment, and should there be anything in there which breaks the law or breaches ethical guidelines it could lead to serious repercussions for Crossley and his company.


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