Thanks to Mark for sending us this story by Paul Kendall in the Telegraph. As the distributor of the film Rip: A Remix Manifesto, which takes a very liberal view of copyright, I want to hate Andrew Crossley as much as the correspondent whose opening line is the title of this post. On the other hand, we can’t pay our filmmakers nearly as much as we used to because of piracy. Where do you stand in this debate?
Andrew Crossley gets a lot of hate mail. Litigants contacting his central London legal practice regularly refer to him as ‘scum’. One particularly abusive email he received recently began: ‘Dear Andrew J Crossley. Are you f—ing stupid?’ before threatening to kill him.
When the young paralegals who work in his office pick up their phones they brace themselves for a tirade of abuse. On the internet, in forums dedicated to discussions of his work, Crossley is routinely castigated, derided, insulted and threatened, if not with murder then with grievous bodily harm or some other painful invasion of his personal space.
Why is this rather ordinary-looking man such a hate figure? Over the past 18 months Crossley has been waging a war, almost single-handedly, against copyright piracy.
Whereas more established organisations, such as the Federation Against Copyright Theft, have concentrated their fire on the most serious perpetrators, the organised gangs who sell illegal DVDs and use the profits to fund violent crime and drug smuggling, Crossley has targeted anyone who has ever illegally downloaded a song or film on their computer.
So far he has sent more than 27,000 letters, threatening court action and demanding, in compensation, anything from £250 to more than £1,000. Next year he’s planning to send out 80,000 letters. The campaign, which he took over from the firm Davenport Lyons, is unprecedented in Britain…
If you don’t already hate Crossley, maybe this will convince you (or not):
Julia and Paddy Dundon are two such people. Grandparents from Nottingham, they have owned a computer for seven years but Paddy, a former machine operator who was forced to take early retirement due to illness, has never used it and even struggles to work a mobile phone. Julia, a part-time auxiliary nurse on £13,000 a year, uses it for email, Facebook and ‘a little bit of shopping’.
But according to a letter they got from ACS: Law on September 15, they are guilty of illegally uploading three pornographic films – British Granny F— 2; British Granny F— 3; and British Granny F— 4 – and must pay a suggested £1,200 in compensation. The whole thing seems ridiculous.
‘At first I laughed,’ Julia says, speaking from her house in Sherwood. ‘I thought it was a joke but Paddy said: “Julia, it’s not a joke.”’
Their reply, explaining how preposterous the claim was, has been rejected by ACS: Law. But Julia – who has now contacted her MP and two peers who have spoken out against ACS: Law in Parliament – is adamant they won’t pay.
‘As far as I’m concerned he’s trying to scam people out of money,’ she says. ‘I’d take the money down there and burn it in front of him first before I’d give it to him.’…
[read the full story in the Telegraph]