We would like to think that the lawyers that are prosecuting alleged copyright infringers are practicing what they preach, but it looks like one of the most high profile firms involved in such cases are just as guilty of stealing other’s work as those who are downloading illegal media.
Allegedly, the file sharing settlement letters and follow-up response templates used by ACS:Law were blatantly copied by lawyers at Tilly, Bailey and Irvine, who were starting their own settlement letter operation.
Andrew Crossly from ACS:Law claims that the firm contacted him for help, which he provided, but instead of just using his templates as a guide, Tilly, Bailey and Irvine began to use them as their own without consent.
“My cooperation does not extend to allowing, without my prior knowledge, license or permission, to use my firm’s range of precedent letters, paragraphs and responses. These have been developed over a long period of time and are not available for use by others,” Crossly wrote in an email that was exposed during the recent ACS:Law email leak. “I have worked tirelessly and at great personal financial cost over the past year to perfect my firm’s business model and it would appear that you have chosen a lazy short cut to ape my business model by utilizing my firm’s carefully prepared and bespoke precedents. For the avoidance of any doubt, I have not ever and will not now or in the future grant to you any license to use my firm’s precedents.”
The work that Crossly claims was stolen from him was actually copied from yet another firm, Davenport Lyons, who helped Crossly set up his own business. That firm has since exited the settlement letter business and some staff has migrated to ACS:Law, but Crossly is claiming that he took over business from Davenport Lyons and therefor “acquired all necessary precedents prepared by them”.
Is it really that hard to draft an original letter nowadays that even the copyright lawyers need to steal from each other? And yet they still go out day after day and prosecute others for doing the same thing. What a sad state of affairs indeed.