Inside the finances of the UK "legal blackmail" copyright enforcement company

Ars Technica's Nate Anderson continues his excellent reporting on British law firm ACS:Law, a much-derided firm that sends threatening copyright letters on behalf of pornographers. ACS suffered an Anonymous denial of service attack in September, and inadvertently dumped its entire email repository, which is now available for download all over the net. Today, Anderson digs into ACS's finances -- how much it makes, what it expects to make, and how much paper it goes through printing threatening letters to mail to poorly researched accused infringers.

Now, Crossley has expenses, of course. He keeps an office in Westminster, London. He employs a staff of 19 paralegals, five administrators, and a few supervisors. He has to pay for all that paper he uses to print his letters--believe it or not, paper costs Crossley more each year (£31,000) than he pays in salary to any one of his employees.

But these costs are minimal. Crossley pays his administrators only £13,500 a year, his paralegals get £16,000, and no one makes above £20,000. Rent is £6,000 a month. Each month, his total expenses come to just about £50,000, or £600,000 for an entire year.

So let's run the numbers. For 2010 and 2011, Crossley expects his firm's share to be £4,261,585, but he only has a total of £1,200,000 in expenses. Raw profit in Crossley's own pocket: £3,177,722. Nice work if you can get it, and it explains why he's been looking for a mansion to rent and buying a Bentley and a new Jeep.

P2P settlement factory expects £10 million from... mailing letters