Davenport Lyons, the by-now infamous lawfirm situated, sadly, here in the UK, is continuing its campaign of sending threatening letters alleging possibly copyright infringing actions and demanding money. You may remember a post I made in which I drafted a response asking to see the evidence the firm allegedly has under the auspices of the Data Protection Act. Although I’m not a lawyer – thank god, I never could eat a whole baby – I do have more than a passing interest in the law and my rights therein. Accordingly, the letter was drafted as best I could.
Since that time, many individuals both on bit-tech and another forum called Slyck have downloaded and sent off the letter along with the required payment. Since then, most – as I predicted – have not heard back. However, some of the very earliest letters have had a reply – here’s an example from bit-tech member nw104hh:
Atari Europe S.A.S: The Witcher
We refer to your letter of 08 July in which you have made a subject access request under section 7 of the Data Protection Act 1998 for “personally identifiable information held by yourselves with regards myself”.
The personal data which this firms holds about you is contained in documents which were created in order to be used in potential litigation against you. As such, they are exempted from requirement to comply with subject access request given in Section 37 and paragraph 10 of Schedule 7 of the Act.
Accordingly, we are not require to comply with your request and are therefore returning your postal order.
We strongly suggest you seek legal advise and cease copying and pasting often misguided and erroneous advice from internet forums. This only serves to increase the costs which it will be necessary to seek from you, should this matter proceed to trial.
I find this response very interesting. Note the continued threats (“…only serves to increase the costs which it will be necessary to seek from you…“) and claims that they are somehow exempt from the Data Protection Act (“…given in Section 37 and paragraph 10 of Schedule 7 of the Act.“).
To put it bluntly, this is horse-hooey. Schedule 7 does not make information obtained for the purposes of pending civil lawsuit exempt – this is, you will remember, information which the firm will be obliged to make available to you before the lawsuit begins anyway.
To anyone who has received this response, I would advise the following: send another letter along with another cheque – or the same cheque again, whichever – stating that the evidence gathered is not exempt, and your original Subject Access Request still stands according to the original timescale of 40 days.
The second reason I find the letter interesting is that it makes specific reference to my original letter (“…cease copying and pasting often misguided and erroneous advice from internet forums…“) – which tells me that Davenport Lyons is actually spending time searching for people it has accused discussing the matter on the ‘net, in order to pre-empt any defence they might make.
Don’t let the buggers win. As I have said in my original post, if you’re innocent you have nothing to fear. Don’t pay: if you pay, that’s an admission of guilt. Today it’s a claim for £500; tomorrow it’s for £1,000. Davenport Lyons are, in my opinion, acting like bullies with diplomas, and must not be allowed to get away with these tactics.
If you’re worried about the recent case of Isabella Barwinska – who was ordered by the court to pay £6,000 in damages and £10,000 in legal costs for the alleged sharing of Pinball Dreams 3D – don’t be: Barwinska failed to respond to the original letter from Davenport Lyons, and didn’t turn up to court. Faced with no defence, the judge had no option but to find in favour of Davenport Lyons. As I said in my original post on the matter, make a fuss: as Ms. Barwinska has found to her cost, burying your head in the sand is precisely the worst thing you could possibly do.