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The Courts Wireless Networking

UK Pub Reportedly Fined For Illegal Wi-Fi Download 102

superglaze and several other readers noted a piece up on ZDNet.co.uk reporting that last summer a pub in the UK was fined £8,000 after a customer downloaded copyrighted material on its Wi-Fi connection. According to the article, whose source was the Wi-Fi hotspot provider, it was a civil action and the pub was not identified because its owner had not given permission to release the details. Techdirt is skeptical as to whether or not the reported fine happened, given the sketchiness surrounding the details. If true, the ruling seems baffling to UK legal experts, according to ZDNet: "Internet law professor Lilian Edwards, of Sheffield Law School, told ZDNet that companies that operate a public Wi-Fi hotspot should 'not be responsible in theory' for users' illegal downloads under 'existing substantive copyright law.'" In a follow-up article, Prof. Edwards cautions that such hotspot operators should "watch out for the pile of copyright infringement warnings coming your way."
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UK Pub Reportedly Fined For Illegal Wi-Fi Download

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  • by Freaky Spook ( 811861 ) on Monday November 30, 2009 @08:58PM (#30277916)

    A couple of jobs ago I had several clients who were cafe's providing free Wifi.
    Their setups just consisted of home Wifi routers, they had no ability to account for the traffic that passed through their networks and had no way to control access.

    Today you can get box solutions for under $1000 dollars to provide basic Identity Management, monitoring, logging and firewall/proxy control to give you more control but many of those solutions are still not enough to prevent file sharing, or provide extended logging with 12 months or more records in case you have to prove a legal issue.

    Much of the train of thought with many of these hotspot operators is to offer wifi because the cafe/restaurant down the street does it and they have no thought of their legal obligations as a service provider and really are not aware of the risk that goes with it.

    The BSA/RIAA/MPAA could have a field day attempting to sue the pants off these kind of operators if they really wanted to focus their attention on it.

  • by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Monday November 30, 2009 @09:32PM (#30278148) Homepage

    And in the USA the hotspot operators have immunity under the DMCA "safe harbor" provision.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Monday November 30, 2009 @09:46PM (#30278242) Journal
    It certainly would be fraud; but I have the unpleasant suspicious that it'd be the sort of fraud that is just white-collar enough to work for a surprisingly length of time. Consider the Blue Hippo case that hit slashdot a couple of weeks back. Those guys stiffed ~30,000 people, through the US mail, which means that virtually all of the stiffings are probably felonies, and the FTC is just now getting around to doing some investigating and sending harshly worded letters.

    Or, more to the point, Look what just hit Arstechnica [arstechnica.com]...

    These pricks [videoprote...liance.com] may or may not actually be a scam; but a scammer would have no trouble emulating that sort of look and feel, and (even more so if there are "legitimate" operations of the type floating around) could evade shutdown for a decent while.

"Never face facts; if you do, you'll never get up in the morning." -- Marlo Thomas