Speculative Invoicing

A form of copyright trolling where the owner of a copyrighted work sends demand letters to persons it alleges have downloaded to work demanding a substantial damages payment, usually a large multiple of the selling price of the work. Typically the copyrighted work is some form of pornography and the implicit threat is of an embarrassing public lawsuit should the recipient not pay the demand.

There are serious risks in this type of activity for a law firm in the UK. There the English law firm ACS law, named for its principle Andrew Crossley, sent an enormous number of such speculative invoices to people it accused, frequently inaccurately, of downloading its ‘clients’ pornographic films. ACS was alleged to have obtained payments from a minority of the recipients, amounting to over £1million ($1.6 million), of which the firm apparently retained up to 65%

However, ACS law’s activities sparked a public outcry which resulted in the firm and Andrew Crossley being charged with misconduct by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and Crossley being struck off the roll of solicitors (i.e., disbarred) for two years – the firm went bankrupt, as did Crossley.  A larger firm, Davenport Lyons, with some 60 layers and a more “blue-chip” practice also engaged in similar practices – the two lawyers involved in the cases were also fined £20,000 (~$30,000) each by the SRA, required to pay £150,000 (~$240,000) in costs and suspended from practice for three months – Davenport Lyons subsequently collapsed into bankruptcy, although the contribution of this matter to its demise is less clear cut than that of ACS.



Related Terms