Court in EU declares an owner of open wi-fi network not liable

Daniela Bartolo | Published on 25 May 2012

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Copyright protection in the EU has witnessed a new legal precedent set by a Finnish court which found an owner of an open Wi-Fi network not liable for copyright infringements when the network is used by third parties for the downloading of copyright-protected files.

This ruling comes at a time when the discussion on responsibility for illegal online activity carried out through open wi-fi networks is heating up.
In 2010, the Finnish anti-priacy body Copyright Information and Anti-Piracy Centre (CIAPC) sued a Finnish woman for using her Wi-Fi connection to download copyrighted material. The defence argued that although it was her connection, since the network was open, anyone could log in and use it to illegally download content, including films, music or books.
Since at the material time of the alleged infringement, the owner of the network was hosting an event for 100 people, who could all be potential users of the network, the Finnish court moved to examine whether the mere act of providing a Wi-Fi connection not protected with a password can be deemed to constitute a copyright-infringing act.
With no way of proving that the owner was behind the infringement, the Finnish Court discarded the case. 
While the application of the case remains restricted to Finland, since in its deliberations the Finnish Court examined in detail the various EU directives on copyright, it can be expected that the case will steer future deliberations by Courts in other EU member states in a similar direction.

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