Consumer group Which? has complained to the Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA) about letters sent by Davenport Lyons to alleged file-sharers on behalf of copyright owners.
In a letter sent to the SRA yesterday, Which? accused Davenport Lyons of “bullying” behaviour.
Which? also claims that the Davenport Lyons letters make “incorrect assertions about the nature of copyright infringement”.
Deborah Prince, Head of legal affairs at Which?, said: “We think the SRA needs to take urgent action against Davenport Lyons. In the current financial climate, we expect an increase in the action that companies may want to take against individuals. The SRA must investigate all such allegations and take decisive action where necessary.”
Davenport Lyons has been working with Internet Service Providers and the courts to hunt for internet users who are thought to have illegally downloaded copyrighted material, such as music, videogames and films. The firm sends letters demanding £500 compensation to the alleged file-sharers.
Davenport Lyons denied that the letters were not legally correct and were bullying.
A spokesperson said: “We’re disappointed that Which? have released this. They haven’t fully discussed the issues with us. The overwhelming thing is that we are saddened that a consumer group wants to pour scorn on a scheme to protect copyright, the theft of which costs consumers millions of pounds a year.”
He added: “We’re baffled as to why this sort of action warrants their attention. Essentially they’re doing the work of the illegal file-sharers for them. If the SRA want to investigate then we are happy to co-operate – we’ve got nothing to hide.”
On Monday The Lawyer reported that Davenport Lyons has been acting on behalf of German company Digiprotect to target file-sharers (8 December).
Digiprotect owns the rights to pornographic films including gay title Army F*ckers, about which Davenport Lyons sent a letter demanding £500 to an elderly couple alleged to have downloaded it (see story).