Copyright litigation strikes one more absurdity

Its one of those things that was bound to happen eventually, we doesn’t make it any less stupid: Pub owner fined £8,000 because a guest downloaded copyrighted material on the pub’s open wireless hotspot.

From reading the article, I’m not really clear who have levied this fine – from a naive reading of the article, it sounds like the complaint was filed against the Pub’s wireless internet service provider – The Cloud (a company that provides wireless hotspot services to businesses), and its not clear whether a court was involved or if the fine was levied by some sort of arbitration process handled by the company.

Obviously there is a serious issue here – A business that provides internet access to its clients, whether if its the primary service or a complementary service, whether its free or for charge, is not really a subscriber and should benefit from the same “safe harbor” provisions as any service provider: a communication service provider is not responsible for misuse of its service for illegal purposes1. The same way that The Cloud is not responsible for the infringement, the pub itself is just as much exempt under the same clause.

I would have taken them to court about this.

I wonder how this apply to the ACUM (the Israeli equivalent of the RIAA) operating of suing businesses that have a radio open to a music channel during business hours under the assumption that this is unlicensed rebroadcasting of copyrighted music.

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  1. though there is some fine print involved that is not relevant to this case, read the wikipedia article linked above for the full gory details []

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