Are you liable if someone stealing your Wi-Fi to pirate porn?

Is someone sneaking onto your Wi-Fi network to download pirated movies or music? Are you legally liable if they do? A judge in a federal case says you are not.
An adult video company sued a California man, Joshua Hatfield, after it was learned his Wi-Fi connection was being used — not by him, though — to download pirated copies of the company's videos.
The man, said AF Holdings, had a "duty to secure his  Internet connection," and "breached that duty by failing to secure his Internet connection."
As a result, the company contended, Hatfield was liable for copyright infringement. 
U.S. District Court Judge Phyllis Hamilton disagreed. In her ruling dismissing the suit, she said, in part:
Hatfield had no duty to AF  Holdings to secure his Internet connection in order to protect AF Holdings’ materials from infringement.
Hatfield is also protected under the federal Communications Decency Act, the judge said, which says that no provider or user of "an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider," and that "no cause of action may be brought" or liability imposed in such cases.
The judge's ruling reaches the same conclusions as another federal judge's in New York in July, notes the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
As EFF attorney Mitch Stoltz writes on the organization's blog:
There are still many open cases in the federal courts where copyright owners are trying to use this bogus legal theory. People caught up in these cases should be able to use the Hatfield and Tabora (New York) rulings to get these suits dismissed quickly, without high legal fees. They may even be able to get their legal fees paid by the plaintiff, as 'copyright negligence' claims move ever closer to being declared a frivolous and harassing misuse of the legal system. If you've been targeted by a copyright troll, visit this page for resources.

Source: MSNBC 9/14/2012


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