| Friday October 24th 2014

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Federal judge: Open WiFi doesn’t make you liable for your neighbors’ misdeeds


A Federal judge in Illinois has once again rebuffed a copyright troll’s request for easy court orders to allow him to connect IP addresses with people. The judge said that open wireless networks and other factors make the connection between IP addresses and defendants difficult, and that making it easy to connect people and IPs would invite extortionate legal claims.

WiFiAfter the recent raids against people whose open wireless networks had been used by their neighbors to download child pornography, many people advised that this was evidence that leaving your wireless network open would make you potentially liable for the misdeeds of people who happened to use it.

But as this case shows, judges can be savvier than that (and they should be, too). Good law shouldn’t punish people for being neighborly.

Baker then went on to cite a recent mistaken child porn raid, where an IP address was turned into a name–but the named person hadn’t committed the crime. “The list of IP addresses attached to VPR’s complaint suggests, in at least some instances, a similar disconnect between IP subscriber and copyright infringer… The infringer might be the subscriber, someone in the subscriber’s household, a visitor with her laptop, a neighbor, or someone parked on the street at any given moment.”


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