UK Government Prepares to Disband Anti-Piracy Group and Seize Its Assets *TorrentFreak
Most top tier anti-piracy groups want to weed out illegal sites, services, and other commercial-scale hackers.
Many of their targets get multiple warnings before something terrible happens, as the main goal is to stop their hacking. If it can be done without a legal battle, it’s better for everyone and it’s also cheaper for everyone.
But there are also anti-piracy groups that don’t give warnings and don’t believe in second chances, no matter how big the infringement or how poor the alleged counterfeiter is. In fact, these groups deliberately target home internet subscribers and demand hundreds or even thousands of dollars, euros or pounds in compensation – and feel very justified in doing so because the law allows it.
Public support for these enforcement programs is comparable to that enjoyed by wheel blockers and ANPR-powered parking fine companies. Even some MPs said they didn’t like them, and they were even criticized in the House of Lords.
The common denominator is the patently unhealthy power disparity between corporate giants and ordinary Internet subscribers, something that is built in and then reinforced by design. However, there is always someone bigger than the big guys and when they show up, the schadenfreude can be delicious. But before the main course, here is a little hors d’oeuvre.
The power of the limited liability company
Hatton and Berkeley (H&B) and its partners have been demanding cash settlements from UK internet subscribers for years. His settlement model was initially fairly ordinary, but when he started promoting the Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) as an anti-piracy “insurance wrapper”, the projection of power was evident.
The plan presented by H&B called for the use of LLP corporate structures to protect companies involved in settlement campaigns, ensuring that if things went wrong for them in litigation, any financial liability could be pre-planned and minimal. .
In short, fortified corporate trenches should be dug to defend against financially insecure and legally ignorant members of the public. H&B Administration LLP was ready to step up a gear, but what came next was perhaps more surprising.
FACT Administration LLP
In September 2019, FACT Worldwide Limited – a company operated by Federation Against Copyright Theft chief Kieron Sharp – became a member of H&B Administration LLP. Even for the admiring critics, it was a big disappointment.
By its very nature, FACT’s work has at times been controversial, but its solid reputation is built on decades of painstaking work in complex and high-profile commercial-scale piracy cases. Cash settlement models targeting the public with expensive “speeding tickets” seemed particularly ill-suited.
However, in 2020 Sharp also joined the LLP as an Appointed Member and in 2021 H&B Administration LLP changed its name to FACT Administration LLP. He soon began pressuring internet subscribers for cash settlements on behalf of members of his film company and later added a chilling payment portal warning of possible criminal, as well as civil, action.
Protective packaging is subject to the law
But while LLPs may have protective qualities, they are not locked in an anarchic bubble. Operating an LLP triggers responsibilities, including legal reporting requirements. These are set by the government and when ignored, increasing levels of otherwise preventable problems can occur.
For example, if an LLP does not submit its confirmation statement on time, the government does not get angry immediately. If we use the document below as an example, the statement date is April 11, 2022 and it is completely acceptable to submit one before April 25.
Taking longer, however, means adding big red text over a previously clean recording.
Of course, it’s human to forget things, so the government is very good these days in that they can send out a reminder before the return is actually due – a kind of ‘pre-notice of offense” friendly. It’s a very reasonable way of reminding people that legal obligations are not being met.
But even that is not enough to get some businesses started. Before they had time to shout “protective wrap” and demand £800 several months had passed and perhaps the simplest and cheapest deposit of all company deposits n still hasn’t been done.
Quite why this is the case here is anyone’s guess. Anti-piracy groups always seem so particular about the law when it comes to other people’s actions. When alleging a violation, for example, they sometimes suggest that Internet subscribers who are not the violators failed in their “duty of care” by not anticipating what someone else might do in private. on their connection, at some undetermined point in the future.
If they had had the luxury of an official reminder in advance, detailing specific dates and legal requirements, and that was followed by several polite warnings afterwards, you could probably see their point. But for settlement targets, that never happens. No warning, no chance. Give us money.
More incoming warnings
Fortunately, people running LLPs receive polite reminders and then warnings about their failure to meet their legal obligations. Earlier this week, a notice appeared on the FACT Administration LLP page at House of Companiesannouncing that if he persists in his non-compliance, things could indeed get very serious.
“The Registrar of Companies gives notice that, unless proven otherwise, the limited liability company will be struck off the register and dissolved at least 2 months from the date indicated above [28/06/2022],” it reads.
“After the dissolution of the limited company, all property and rights vested or held in trust for the limited company shall be deemed to be good vacancy and shall belong to the Crown.”
This notice represents yet another warning to comply with the law after months and months of non-compliance. But here we are several days later and still nothing was done. Some “duties of care” are less important than others, it seems.
As a result, this week FACT Administration LLP was featured for free in Britain’s oldest newspaper – The Gazette. It’s far less “amusing” than the country’s tabloids, but it easily rivals the “red tops” when it comes to scandals, even when trying to accurately report.
“Failing to file your confirmation statements, annual statements or accounts is a criminal offense – and LLP directors or appointed members could be personally fined in criminal courts,” advises the UK government. bed.
“Failure to pay your late-filing penalty may result in enforcement proceedings. Any criminal proceedings for failure to file confirmation statements, annual returns or accounts are separate from (and in addition to) any late filing penalties issued by Companies House against the company.
But of course, despite all the strong words and threats to dissolve the LLP and give the assets of the LLP to the Crown, it is unlikely that anything terrible will happen. There are no immediate financial penalties for filing a confirmation statement late and no matter how badly things go, it is almost always possible to get a business back on track.
Another plus is that filing a Confirmation Statement is both easy and ridiculously cheap – just £13. However, if people can’t spare 20 minutes and have cash to spend (perhaps suspected hackers have donated generously lately), a familiar business with an address in Mayfair, London, says that she will. for just £125. It’s probably best to send a few reminders, just in case.
Finally, reminders may also be necessary regarding the American company TCYK LLC. Her film – “The Company You Keep” – was included in cash settlement letters originally sent in 2015, including one sent to an 82-year-old grandmother.
The problem is that despite being listed as an active member of FACT Administration LLP, corporate data in the United States shows that the the company was dissolved leading to the possibility that does not exist. Companies House doesn’t seem to have been made aware of this but in a few months maybe someone will.
The structure of FACT Administration LLP threatened with disbarment
Current person/entity exercising significant control: Hatton & Berkeley Management Ltd (Director: Robert Croucher, shareholder with more than 75% 1)
Members, country of incorporation (if applicable), plus sources/connections
Robert Croucher (UK) 1,2
Kieron Sharp (UK) 1,2
Oliver Williams (UK) 1,2
After 2 Movie LLC (USA) 1,2
After 34 Nevada LLC (USA) 1,2
Azil Productions LLC (USA) 1,2
Cinestate Run Hide Fight LLC (USA) 1,2
FACT Worldwide Ltd (UK) 1,2
H Films Inc. (USA) 1,2
Hatton & Berkeley Management Ltd (UK) 1,2
Icon Film Distribution Ltd (UK) 1,2
Right Angle Productions LLC (USA) 1,2
TCYK LLC (USA) 1,2 (dissolved)
Tension Holdings LLC (USA) 1,2
Wonder One LLC (USA) 1,2
Notable former member/resignation:
Copyright Management Services Ltd (Patrick Achache – too maverick/Guardaley)
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