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Singapore industry group raps Dallas Buyers Club lawyers for bullying

Internet Society's Singapore chapter files complaint against lawyers representing Dallas Buyers Club LLC over its bullying tactics in the illegal download lawsuit.
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor

The Singapore outfit of non-profit industry group, Internet Society (ISOC), has filed a complaint against local lawyers representing Dallas Buyers Club LLC over what it describes as bullying tactics in the film studio's illegal download lawsuit.

The complaint, targeting Samuel Seow Law's litigation and dispute resolution practice group, argued that the lawyers had resorted to threats of criminal proceedings, which breached the Law Society of Singapore's code of ethics. ISOC's Singapore President Harish Pillay said the complaint letter was handed to the law society last week, reported local newspaper Today.

Pillay said the law firm adopted "bad bullying tactics" in its initial demand letters sent in April to subscribers of local telco M1, detailing fines of up to S$50,000 or jail term in copyright infringement acts and demanding written offers of damages and costs.

"These words make people panic, especially those who are not legally trained," he said in the report. "They are blaming people of alleged transgression without proof... Those who are a bit naive will settle [without seeking legal help]."

M1, along with Singapore's two other telcos Singtel and StarHub, were ordered by the local high court to hand over information about customers alleged to have downloaded illegal copies of the movie Dallas Buyers Club.

In a May blog post, ISOC described the move as "a shotgun approach to legal tactics that can only backfire". Stressing that while it did not condone illegal downloading of copyrighted content, it called for improvements in the protection of intellectual property rights where "innocent" online users should be able to access the web "without fear".

Samuel Seow Law said in the Today report that it was unaware of the complaint filed by ISOC, and further noted that subsequent letters to subscribers of Singtel and StarHub were worded differently.

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