The RIAA wants to be able to hold the owner of an ISP account responsible for any activity on their connection, according to WIRED. If the judge grants this motion anyone operating an open WiFi access point liable for the illegal actions of anonymous users connected to it. This could essentially end the idea of free open WiFi!

Predictably, the RIAA has filed a “motion for reconsideration” of Judge West’s decision to force the RIAA to pay for Foster’s legal fees. In the motion, the plaintiffs emphasize a key point: They want the judge to rule that the owner of an ISP account is responsible for all activity on that account, which could have a chilling effect on public wireless access and open hotspots. (The appeal also made the point that Foster should be held liable if she was aware of the infringement occuring via her account; in the case of someone with an open Wi-Fi network, that could constitute something as simple as experiencing traffic slowdowns.)

I don’t like the smell of this on a few points.
1) If the RIAA feels that ISP account holders should be liable for other people’s actions then they should lobby congress to pass such a bill. Not get a judge to make such a ruling without any public debate or discussion!
2) Its pretty ridiculous as there is lots protections in place and case law stating that ISPs cannot be held liable for their users’ actions. Why should anyone operating an open WiFi network not be protected by the same.
3) It presumes that persons operating open WiFi networks have the ability to restrict illegal usage and that they should be responsible for the illegal usage of others. This is simply unfair. They need to go after the persons doing the actual crime!

I have an analogy; Traffic light poles are very begin, in fact beneficial, right? If some bad doer fastens a steel cable between two so that its at 4-5 off the ground and the cable decapitates a motorcyclist as they try to drive through the intersection, no one would consider blaming the city for having traffic light poles! Why are we blaming WiFi access point operators for the illegal actions of a few.

[tags]riaa, wifi, access point, 802.11, 802.11b, 802.11a, 802.11g, 802.11n[/tags]

usrbingeek is a Commercial, Wedding, and Portrait Photographer in Vermont and is also a Global Admin on the WyldRyde IRC Network. WyldRyde offers a free chatroom that can be added to any web site or blog and is home to the Lockergnome Chat.