Legal action against web users suspected of filesharing illegally has officially been ended by the judge presiding over the case.
The cases had been bought by the now-defunct legal firm ACS:Law, which worked in conjunction with MediaCAT, a company that was given the go-ahead by a number of copyright holders to pursue copyright infringement on their behalf.
Initially, the legal firm has issued web users suspected of net piracy with 'bullying letters'. The letters claimed the recipient was guilty of illegally downloading music and video files from the web. The letter ordered the recipient to either pay compensation or face legal action.
ACS:Law ended up pursuing legal action against 27 web users, but in January this year, the accused received letters claiming the cases were being dropped and the legal action would not take place - a move that initially requires approval from the judge presiding over the case, something which had not been gained.
ACS:Law and MediaCAT then ceased trading at the end of January, just days before a judgement on a case was due.
"There's simply no point in keeping these proceedings artificially alive any more," said Guy Tritton, a barrister from Ralli Solicitors, which is acting on behalf of those accused of filesharing illegally. He was speaing at the hearing, which was not attended by Andrew Crossley, owner of ACS:Law.
Tritton added that the pair wasted court time as they never intended to follow through with the trial, and were merely using court action as a threat to squeeze more money out of targets.
Judge Birss is now considering whether to bill the two firms for the costs incurred by those accused of net piracy. Ralli Solicitors is seeking £90,000. "If ever there was a case of conduct out of the norm, it is this one," Birss said.