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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 PsychoSlashDot ( 207849 ) on Monday November 30, 2009 @08:51PM (#30277828)

    No, no, and more no.

    This sort of litigation is unwise at best. If providing network access makes one responsible for the users' actions, that will severely impact availability of service. Hotels, coffee shops, airports and the like all become liable for their users. Bad move. What if I power my laptop using electricity at the pub but use an AirCard to use a cell phone network to infringe copyright? Ultimately this is foolishness, regardless of how copyright infringement is viewed.

    It's time to reinforce the concept that I am responsible for my actions, and nobody else. Aiding and abetting is something entirely different from what a WiFi provider does. Just because copyright owners can't actually track down the person infringing doesn't make it okay to pick the next guy up as the source of the proverbial pound of flesh.

  • by plover ( 150551 ) * on Monday November 30, 2009 @08:52PM (#30277840) Homepage Journal

    This story brought to you by the RIAA, striking fear across the globe.

    No fine too ridiculous! No defendant too vulnerable! No sense of proportion!

  • Rumor propagation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Red Flayer ( 890720 ) on Monday November 30, 2009 @08:57PM (#30277902) Journal
    Nice, some rumor propagation on the front page.

    Supposedly, according to a wifi hotspot provider, one of their unnamed clients was fined because an unnamed patron downloaded some unnamed copyrighted material.

    I'm surprised the amount wasn't also undisclosed.

    Now, I'm all for the birth of new urban legends for the hi-tech crowd... and maybe I'm a bit cynical, but this sure seems like some nice marketing for that wifi company, whose name I will omit in case marketing is what this is about.

    See, they get their name plastered on the intertubes, while their claim will get thoroughly debunked, and all people will remember is the name of the company and the fact that public wifi operators are protected by safe harbor laws.

    If the pub DID really get fined GBP 8k for copyright violations, it's probably more likely that it was because they were streaming sports content live to their patrons. This is how I watch Rutgers football games that are not on TV... I go to a bar where they stream the games (albeit at very low res with some hiccuping) onto a big-screen TV.

    But, I'm guessing here, based on the words of that wifi company. Which is the same thing everyone is doing, so why can't we just ignore this stupid story until there is some actual fact-checking done?
  • by esampson ( 223745 ) on Monday November 30, 2009 @09:06PM (#30277972) Homepage

    Your honor, I would like to refer you to the case of RIAA vs Makeshitup in which it was clearly proven that the RIAA was in the right.

  • by DigiShaman ( 671371 ) on Monday November 30, 2009 @09:21PM (#30278062) Homepage

    It's time to reinforce the concept that I am responsible for my actions, and nobody else

    Sure, if you agree to have the MAC address of the device in use registered under your name. If you falsify the MAC or provide wrongful data, you get life in prison. Your objective is to bow down and pay tribute to the media overlords. They are royalty. They have power above you. They feed the coffers of your politicians whome *snickers* represent you! How DARE YOU question their authority!!!

  • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Monday November 30, 2009 @09:25PM (#30278082) Journal

    One can only hope that we get more and more outrageous cases, because it's clear the lawmakers and the courts are incapable of reigning in the stupidity. I hope they start fining little old grannies millions, and every WiFi hotspot in the industrialized world shuts down out of fear of litigation. I hope that the Internet is rendered practically useless by filters and deep packet inspections and the effective banning of encrypted data. I hope the whole thing slows down so badly that the lawmakers are either forced to backtrack or it finally becomes a big enough electoral issue that all the filthy whores that occupy the halls of power are swept away.

    The reason I hope this is because it seems clear that lawmakers, either being complete fucking retards or sucking at the teats of Big Media are incapable or unwilling to start putting the brakes on this. Sometimes it takes enough worst case scenarios to wake the public up to the reality that the whores they elect have ceased representing them, and the force of public will starts making progress. I mean, that's what it finally took to send the message that the Iraq War was an absurd waste of money and resources.

    The one thing it proves is that people, lawmakers and voters, are utterly incapable of seeing the consequences of actions before the actions are taken.

  • by Alwin Henseler ( 640539 ) on Monday November 30, 2009 @09:47PM (#30278256)

    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

    Get real. For a small business owner, a 'under $1000 dollars box solution with monitoring, logging etc.' is massive overkill. For a restaurant or small hotel, it's nice to provide your guests with free wireless internet access. But that's simply a service, a bonus, and nothing more. As provider of that extra service:

    • You probably don't have the money to spend much on it, since it isn't a necessity in any way (not for you, probably not for your guests).
    • You don't have the time or (wo)manpower (or expertise) to fiddle with it much, monitor activity, check logfiles or such. Your personnel is busy pouring coffee, you're busy running your business.

    Basically you'd want a small, cheap 'thingie' that hooks up to your internet connection, throw that in a corner, and forget about it until a guest asks why the wireless internet isn't working. Holding you responsible, or expecting you to monitor what happens on that service, is a) unrealistic, and b) unreasonable. It would be much too ask even for an ISP, whose breat and butter it is. For a small business owner, it's just a sideshow. Legislators (and courts) should keep this in mind.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 30, 2009 @10:32PM (#30278486)

    Sure, if you agree to have the MAC address of the device in use registered under your name. If you falsify the MAC or provide wrongful data, you get life in prison. Your objective is to bow down and pay tribute to the media overlords

    Actually I think it's slightly different. You bow down to the media. The media overlords are standing behind you.

  • by interkin3tic ( 1469267 ) on Monday November 30, 2009 @10:43PM (#30278586)

    If you falsify the MAC or provide wrongful data, you get life in prison.

    Noob question: was that hyperbole? I can never tell when talking about laws, especially ones that the mafIAA has pushed though.

  • by Thinboy00 ( 1190815 ) <thinboy00@gmail. ... m minus math_god> on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @12:28AM (#30279306) Journal

    Definitely hyperbole in the U.S. (at least until ACTA gets ratified... if it is ratified at all). Not so sure about the U.K.

  • by mpe ( 36238 ) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @03:30AM (#30280230)
    Unfortunately the RIAA already has the patent on that method.

    Which was overturned due to prior art. Bogus invoicers having been around for a long time...

Think of it! With VLSI we can pack 100 ENIACs in 1 sq. cm.!