Bar Owner Fined $13,000 For Copyright Infringement on an Open Hotspot

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Tenhawk

Back a couple weeks ago when MaxPC ran the article about this law, this is precisely the sort of insanity I was talking about. You ban people from the net for copywrite infringement, they WILL find other ways to get their net service. Ways you can't track.

So what is the law's response to that? Attack the legitimate holders of a service instead. People who have committed no crime other than, in this case, provide net service to their customers at a minimum of a hassle.

WTF?

 

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I Jedi

He's new

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bdwoolman

If you leave your front door open and somebody walks in and takes
something and they later get caught their crime is less serious than
if they broke a lock to get in. Even bypassing a screen door hook is enough to
intensify their crime. By the same token a secured network, even a
weakly secured one, is arguably a way to insulate you from wrongdoing on that
network. Conversely, by leaving your network open and unsecured you
possibly implicate yourself in any torts or crimes committed by the
people using it. At least these days.

Look. If you knowingly share your
bandwidth any reasonable person could predict that some people will
use it as a screen for nefarious activity: from illegal
downloading of copyright material to downloading illegal kinds of
porn.  It is arguably akin to leaving a weapon around. Common
sense now dictates that you have been irresponsible. And a DA
bringing charges could argue so forcefully -- albeit perhaps not fairly.
Grandma claiming ignorance might skate. But a bar owner? Probably not.

However, even putting weak security like WEP on your network
places the onus firmly on the person who breaks into the network to
misbehave. He has to commited a crime by hacking you to get access to
your bandwidth. Hacking you shows his intent. Nobody could sensibly
argue that a burglar committed less of a crime because he only picked a cheap run-of-the-mill lock. More importantly it shows your intent. You
have locked the screen door.  Moreover, if you do give somebody
your password (or rent it to them) then you can have them sign an agreement
that they will not misbehave. Once again the blame has shifted to the doer. Sadly the days of safe open WIFI are over.

Liability and culpability naturally will shift to the network owner.
Furthermore, sharing a network in this way may well violate your
service agreement with your ISP. The fact that you are committing a
tort further erodes your legal standing in the event somebody uses
your network to no good purpose.

Let's take it one more logical step. What if you put your phone in
your front yard and said: "Hey I just pay a monthly fee so walk
up and make any calls you want." When the local drug dealer
starts using it (not to mention the local hooker.) What will your
situation be when the heat comes down? Not good I think. Your position is quite different from that of the phone company in this case. You are the user. They are the provider.

What if you left your back door wide open and somebody came in and took a gun you were cleaning from the kitchen table and comitted a felony with it? Would you be implicated in the crime? Maybe. Maybe not. Could you be successfully sued by the victims? You bet you could.

Very few cases like this have been brought to date because the technical issues are complex, but the legal theory is pretty clear. Bottom line. Secure your WIFI network.

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Tenhawk

By your theory, if I leave my doors unlocked and get robbed... I should be fined for the crime. Bulls%$t.

Let's look at your cell phone theory, for example, and extend it a bit further. I make my phone available to the public as a service for the area... like, oh, say a bar phone in a BAR maybe. As the owner I'm not liable for a drug dealer using that phone to set up a deal. I just own the damned phone.

The person committing the crime is responsible for the crime. Period.

Now, in place security CAN be used as a reason to compound their crimes in court, however. If they cracked WEP or WPA protections in *addition* to downloading copywrited material, those charges may be tacked on to their list of crimes. This is in fitting with your first example of leaving the door unlocked. However, to continue said example, if someone walks into my unlocked home and, using it as a base, kills someone down the street with a rifle shot... I'm not the one who has to face court charges (assuming the cops don't bungle the case anyway).

Just because the door was unlocked doesn't make the owner liable. It just reduces the charges the perpatrator is going to face in court.

So, bottom line? The Judge, Jury, or whatever in this case are INSANE. They're setting a blatantly illegal precedent that violates all other precedent, and someone needs to check their bank accounts for bribes.

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nekollx

 I don't know how things are done in bad teeth land but here in the states evne our "open wifi" places require you to enter and get a key off some clearly visible spot, doesn't that count as basic protection?

------------------------------
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Xiongrey

I have a local Hooker?

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Yusonice

The page on a real mod's account will look like this when you click the name. Anw the staff are paid to update so they have to have a lot of postcounts

http://www.maximumpc.com/user/justinkerr_0

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MRrelabled

It looks like as the law is written it's like if someone used your phone to call whatever, that phone would be charged or the owner of the phone would be responsible, it's the ip address as I understand with the little facts I've found. 

Is a public network any less responsible than say a private network or an individual computer ? Say if the business provided a computer rather than just a connection ? Soon I imagine we'll have to login into a cloud first so that will be different or isn't that what you want ? 

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Five Rabbits

I tried looking for more information, but all I could find was a source saying 'someone', downloaded copyrighted material.

 Unless there was some active part by bar owners involving the infringement I can't see how they can be held liable, you know like a sign in the window saying 'free wifi pirate all you want'.  Really it just sounds like another case of copy-right holders carpet bombing a problem area and hitting everything but the actual pirates.  Kind of like how PC gamers who actually buy their games have to have to put up with Draconian copyright protection while the pirates hacked version doesn't have any of that.

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Quakindude

 I agree with you totally. I just don't see this gaining any ground over there or here in the States. That's like saying a public water fountain placed there by the City is responsible for a child's broken arm when they ride a bike into it. You have to hold the person responsible, not the entity that provides it for your use. 

MaximumPC Moderator

***The views I express are my own and do not represent the views of MaximumPC Magazine or Future US.***

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fa1thful

Your a MaxPC Mod?  You've posted 20 times...

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I Jedi

He's new

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MRrelabled

maybe I could make a better judgment if presented some facts it sounds like their is a lot more to the story. beware of the double edged agenda, you might not like what you end up with. 

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Cache

Does this mean internet service providers are likewise guilty since they provided for the same communications as the wifi hotspot? They may not have been the 'end point', but certainly they were an accomplice in the whole thing.

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dgourd

This is outrageous.  I guess people will sue for anything these days. 

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auwingr1

This is one we definitely need to watch here stateside.

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mpcrsc562

this is the stupidest thing i've read! i can only hope that this doesn't set a precedent to be picked up and followed here in the u.s.

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I Jedi

You assume, of course, that americans are smarter than that? See: Congress

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