‘Dear Andrew J. Crossley, Are You F—ing Stupid?’

Andrew Crossley's website after hackers targeted it

Andrew Crossley's website after hackers targeted it

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]

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  • chinagreenelvis

    Where do I stand? I stand with the author of the article: the old business model is no longer practical and the solution is not to punish downloaders, but to offer them more attractive alternatives.

    Crossley is exploiting the gullibility of individuals as well as the system by relying entirely on the “data” that he’s collected regarding something as unreliable as a dynamic I.P. address. His dishonesty will catch up with him eventually, and his equally hungry clients won’t be there to save him, since he’s apparently not representing Sony and Columbia.

    The real fact of the matter is that the business model IS changing, and I have but two names to prove it with: iTunes and Netflix.

    Let’s face it: for people who appreciate a good product, downloading is a pain in the ass. For one, you’re never sure if what you’re downloading is safe, you’re never sure that the quality of it is worthwhile, and even with today’s Internet, it can still be difficult to find what you’re looking for. iTunes and Netflix aren’t perfect, but they’re a step in the right direction and they’re much easier to deal with (and more reliable) than even the best .torrent resources. The dinosaurs will evolve or become extinct.

  • chinagreenelvis

    Where do I stand? I stand with the author of the article: the old business model is no longer practical and the solution is not to punish downloaders, but to offer them more attractive alternatives.

    Crossley is exploiting the gullibility of individuals as well as the system by relying entirely on the “data” that he’s collected regarding something as unreliable as a dynamic I.P. address. His dishonesty will catch up with him eventually, and his equally hungry clients won’t be there to save him, since he’s apparently not representing Sony and Columbia.

    The real fact of the matter is that the business model IS changing, and I have but two names to prove it with: iTunes and Netflix.

    Let’s face it: for people who appreciate a good product, downloading is a pain in the ass. For one, you’re never sure if what you’re downloading is safe, you’re never sure that the quality of it is worthwhile, and even with today’s Internet, it can still be difficult to find what you’re looking for. iTunes and Netflix aren’t perfect, but they’re a step in the right direction and they’re much easier to deal with (and more reliable) than even the best .torrent resources. The dinosaurs will evolve or become extinct.

    • chinagreenelvis

      More television networks could take a cue from Comedy Central and TBS, which offer full-length online videos of their most recent episodes (and often back catalogues of older episodes) all paid for by the two commercials they play again and again at every single break.

    • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

      That was completely lucid, factually based, thoughtful and insightful…

      …are you sure you belong on the internet? ;-)

      Srsly…well done, tho. I agree entirely.

  • chinagreenelvis

    More television networks could take a cue from Comedy Central and TBS, which offer full-length online videos of their most recent episodes (and often back catalogues of older episodes) all paid for by the two commercials they play again and again at every single break.

  • Smashandgrab

    As an artist and creator, I’d like to side with the illegal downloaders, but after seeing my own hard work ripped off before my eyes and stolen as if it were valueless by masses of freeloaders, I’m going to offer my support to Crossley.

    I’m sorry, but all my friends in the arts industry are coming home one by one with pink slips from work, or long weeks between paying projects, or seeing what little money they were making cut down even more.

    Illegal downloading is rampant. And before you start mouthing off that you’re ‘sticking it to the corporations’, understand that you’re first sticking it to the artists and creators. Yes, you’re screwing over the little guys, and you’re doing it with a self-righteous smile which just hurts more. I get that everyone thinks ripping off movies, TV shows and music they like isn’t a big deal, but when damn near EVERYONE is doing it…

    I used to think the internet was a great thing, but now I understand that its just a medium for people to abuse as much as they possibly can.

  • Smashandgrab

    As an artist and creator, I’d like to side with the illegal downloaders, but after seeing my own hard work ripped off before my eyes and stolen as if it were valueless by masses of freeloaders, I’m going to offer my support to Crossley.

    I’m sorry, but all my friends in the arts industry are coming home one by one with pink slips from work, or long weeks between paying projects, or seeing what little money they were making cut down even more.

    Illegal downloading is rampant. And before you start mouthing off that you’re ‘sticking it to the corporations’, understand that you’re first sticking it to the artists and creators. Yes, you’re screwing over the little guys, and you’re doing it with a self-righteous smile which just hurts more. I get that everyone thinks ripping off movies, TV shows and music they like isn’t a big deal, but when damn near EVERYONE is doing it…

    I used to think the internet was a great thing, but now I understand that its just a medium for people to abuse as much as they possibly can.

    • damg

      im an artist and i record and give away all my music for free on the internet. I play shows and take a cut of the door, plus i hand make maybe about 20-30 CD sleeves and sometimes even C47 tapes. Also, i screen print my own t-shirts. On weekends, i take a small acoustic band and play on the street for a few hours and get some money that way also.
      giving away my music has helped me get a (tiny!) fanbase and in turn has ensured more people have come to my shows and spent money etc.
      I have friends who have had money thrown at them by bigger labels – houses bought, equipment, studio time etc. who have also been “dropped” faster than a hot potato by said companies when they realised they weren’t making enough out of them. the music “industry” is a mafia. and i say, fuck the artist who is in it for the money. thats called prostitution. why would you go into a restaraunt and buy a meal just to do a dump in the restrooms? smaller “indie” artists make most of their income from selling unique items at merch stands on tours, or playing shows in general, or radio play through PRS etc.
      If you cut out the real pirates, the companies that hold the talent to ransom like loan sharks them what do you have? an artist with an extraordinary new distribution tool – the internet. Art for Art’s sake is what i say.

      • Smashandgrab

        Can you buy food to eat or pay for your utilities with art for art’s sake? How about rent or gas for your car or transit tickets? How about making a living that is on par with being on welfare (because that’s where most artists are stuck right now)? Sure if you work part time or full time on top of trying to be creative, you can afford to exist, but most art (if done seriously) takes up more time than most full time jobs. This isn’t an issue of being greedy, but simply wanting to have enough money to support spouses and children and a lifestyle that isn’t in the toilet instead of scrounging for scraps.

        If you want to give away your hard work for free, then more power to you. But for those of us that don’t (and there are a lot of us), we shouldn’t have to be subjected to outright theft from under our very noses. Its an insult to us, and its an insult to the intelligence of the people stealing because they all know better. If you don’t want to pay for out blood sweat and tears, you certainly don’t have to. By all means, go without, but don’t injure us by ripping us off.

        The internet is great for exposure and little else. You know what they say about that; musicians and artists can die from exposure.

    • damg

      also –

      Give away the razors (MP3s) and sell the blades (concerts and gear).

      Give away the printers (MP3s) and sell the ink (concerts and gear).

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    That was completely lucid, factually based, thoughtful and insightful…

    …are you sure you belong on the internet? ;-)

    Srsly…well done, tho. I agree entirely.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NFVJSPGJUODHDTVL3ZDGVLA26M Bea Lin

    maybe you can find answers here:

    === http://tinyurl.com/23lm6pa =====

  • damg

    im an artist and i record and give away all my music for free on the internet. I play shows and take a cut of the door, plus i hand make maybe about 20-30 CD sleeves and sometimes even C47 tapes. Also, i screen print my own t-shirts. On weekends, i take a small acoustic band and play on the street for a few hours and get some money that way also.
    giving away my music has helped me get a (tiny!) fanbase and in turn has ensured more people have come to my shows and spent money etc.
    I have friends who have had money thrown at them by bigger labels – houses bought, equipment, studio time etc. who have also been “dropped” faster than a hot potato by said companies when they realised they weren’t making enough out of them. the music “industry” is a mafia. and i say, fuck the artist who is in it for the money. thats called prostitution. why would you go into a restaraunt and buy a meal just to do a dump in the restrooms? smaller “indie” artists make most of their income from selling unique items at merch stands on tours, or playing shows in general, or radio play through PRS etc.
    If you cut out the real pirates, the companies that hold the talent to ransom like loan sharks them what do you have? an artist with an extraordinary new distribution tool – the internet. Art for Art’s sake is what i say.

  • damg

    also –

    Give away the razors (MP3s) and sell the blades (concerts and gear).

    Give away the printers (MP3s) and sell the ink (concerts and gear).

  • damg

    also –

    Give away the razors (MP3s) and sell the blades (concerts and gear).

    Give away the printers (MP3s) and sell the ink (concerts and gear).

  • Smashandgrab

    Can you buy food to eat or pay for your utilities with art for art’s sake? How about rent or gas for your car or transit tickets? How about making a living that is on par with being on welfare (because that’s where most artists are stuck right now)? Sure if you work part time or full time on top of trying to be creative, you can afford to exist, but most art (if done seriously) takes up more time than most full time jobs. This isn’t an issue of being greedy, but simply wanting to have enough money to support spouses and children and a lifestyle that isn’t in the toilet instead of scrounging for scraps.

    If you want to give away your hard work for free, then more power to you. But for those of us that don’t (and there are a lot of us), we shouldn’t have to be subjected to outright theft from under our very noses. Its an insult to us, and its an insult to the intelligence of the people stealing because they all know better. If you don’t want to pay for out blood sweat and tears, you certainly don’t have to. By all means, go without, but don’t injure us by ripping us off.

    The internet is great for exposure and little else. You know what they say about that; musicians and artists can die from exposure.

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