Friday, November 27, 2009

WiFi fine unfair

This shows what a horrific mess the pushing of more and more weight onto copyright law had created: a pub in the UK has been fined £8,000 after a customer downloaded copyrighted material through the free wi-fi service:

According to internet law professor Lilian Edwards, of Sheffield Law School, where a business operates an open Wi-Fi spot to give customers or visitors internet access, they would be "responsible in theory" for users' unlawful downloads, under "existing substantive copyright law".

However, she said the measures that would be brought in under the Digital Economy Bill — measures that could include disconnection of the account holder — would not apply because the business could be classified as a public communications service provider, which would make it exempt. According to the terms of the bill, only "subscribers" can be targeted with sanctions.

Except that under those laws, the "service provider" would then be lumbered with the task of trying to find out who had done the supposed copyright breach to pass those details on to the intellectual property owners, which is going to be even more messy.

The name of the pub hasn't been made public; nor has the name of the corporation who - presumably well aware they were going after an entity which had done no actual wrong itself - greedily slammed in a claim. We're told over and over how we must support the copyright holding companies because they are so very, very good for the economy: is it really good for the economy to have companies in stretched market sectors being forced to shovel out eight grand for a minor infraction by someone who might not even have been one of their customers?