May 23, 2014 | By Corynne McSherry

Open Wi-Fi Is Not a CopyCrime: EFF's Primer on Open Wi-Fi and Copyright

Every day cafes, airports, libraries, laundromats, schools and individuals operate “open” Wi-Fi routers, sharing their connection with neighbors and passers-by at no charge. The City of San Francisco recently deployed a free, public Wi-Fi network along a three-mile stretch of Market Street. Sometimes people use those connections for unauthorized activities. Most of the time they don’t, and the world gets a valuable public service of simple, ubiquitous Internet access.

At EFF, we are big fans of open wireless. But we also know that operators of open networks sometimes worry that they could be legally responsible if people use their networks to engage in copyright infringement. We've put together a short white paper that generally explains the scope and limits of operator liability for the acts of users, and additional steps network operators may choose to take to further limit their legal risk. As we explain in the paper, copyright liability for the acts of your users is less likely than you might think, as long as you (1) simply provide a means of transmission; and (2) act reasonably and responsibly.

To be clear, this paper does not offer legal advice specific to the situation of any operator. If you want such advice, we urge you to consult an attorney. But we hope it does help dispel some of the myths about copyright and open Wi-Fi.


Deeplinks Topics

Stay in Touch

NSA Spying

EFF is leading the fight against the NSA's illegal mass surveillance program. Learn more about what the program is, how it works, and what you can do.

Follow EFF

Tell Brazilian lawmakers: copyright law should benefit all, not just Hollywood. https://www.eff.org/deeplinks... #CPICIBER

Apr 29 @ 11:13am

Our new report shows how some Arab world counterterrorism laws are really just rubber stamps for online censorship. https://www.eff.org/deeplinks...

Apr 29 @ 10:22am

A battery of dangerous cybercrime proposals still hang over Brazil: https://www.eff.org/deeplinks... #CPICIBER

Apr 28 @ 5:49pm
JavaScript license information