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Porn Troll Wants Wi-Fi Providers to Pay for Others' Illegal Downloads

June 15, 2012

Porn Troll Wants Wi-Fi Providers to Pay for Others' Illegal Downloads

EFF Calls Foul on Bogus 'Negligence' Claim

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) urged a federal judge today to reject a porn troll's ploy to make a Wi-Fi provider responsible for the purported copyright infringement of another user.

Liberty Media Holdings (LMH) is suing two roommates in New York, alleging the illegal downloading of a pornographic film, even though LMH argues that only one made the infringing copy. Remarkably, LMH claims that the non-downloading roommate is also responsible for copyright infringement, simply because the Internet subscription is in his name and he might have known his roommate sometimes made illegal downloads.

"This theory is absurd," said EFF Staff Attorney Mitch Stoltz. "Decades of copyright law make it clear – to be guilty of infringement you have to do more than just provide an Internet connection – you have to contribute actively to the infringement. This is a ridiculous attempt at expanding copyright law so it's easier for copyright trolls to extract more money from more innocent people."

Copyright trolls attempt to game the legal process, using improper claims and procedures to pressure alleged copyright infringers into settling lawsuits against them even where they have legitimate defenses. If LMH is successful with this latest ploy, Internet users across the country would suffer. Every day, cities, cafes, libraries, schools, and individuals operate open Wi-Fi networks, sharing their connection with the public. This is a valuable public service, part of federal policy to promote universal, convenient access to the Internet, and also promotes public safety. But if Wi-Fi providers could be held responsible for users' behavior, public access to the Internet would be sharply reduced because of liability fears.

"We've all been in a spot when we needed a few quick minutes online – when we were lost, for example, or had to send an urgent email," said EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry. "More open Wi-Fi is a public good that we should support. We can't let the copyright trolls bend the law here. All of us who use the Internet throughout the day could lose out."

Thanks to Ray Beckerman for his assistance as local counsel.

For the full amicus brief:
https://www.eff.org/document/amicus-brief-11

Contacts:

Mitch Stoltz
   Staff Attorney
   Electronic Frontier Foundation
   mitch@eff.org

Corynne McSherry
   Intellectual Property Director
   Electronic Frontier Foundation
   corynne@eff.org

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