ACS:Law, a legal firm that sent hundreds of letters to people claiming breaches of copyright law, has failed in an attempt to have default judgements made against eight people it has accused of copyright infringment.
Default judgements were not appropriate for such a complex legal case, as they are meant for administrative work, Judge Birss ruled at the London Patents County Court at the beginning of December.
"The Request for Judgment procedure is an essentially administrative procedure and plays an important role in court procedure in the vast majority of cases in which it is used," Birss ruled. "However these are specialist intellectual property claims raising difficult and potentially controversial legal issues."
Judge Birss added that ACS:Law claiming that the people had allowed other people to use Wi-Fi networks for downloading copyrighted materials was not an allegation of illegal action.
"A key part of the plea of infringement rests on an assertion that "allowing" others to infringe is itself an infringing act, when it is not," said Birss. "There is no plea that the works qualify for copyright protection at all."
ACS:Law is currently under investigation by the Information Commissioner's Office over a data breach which disclosed the personal details of people ACS:Law had accused of illegally downloading pornography.