Given that we as a species have only been widely using the internet for about ten years, it’s quite understandable that we’re still finding our feet. It’s ambitious in the least to expect to fully understand how to run, legislate and control such an endlessly changing thing which is so unlike anything we’ve been in charge of before. It’s because of this that the pursuit of making and enforcing laws on internet use is still a very confusing, sometimes fruitless and often contradictory one.
Case in point is the lawsuit just handed to a UK pub landlord over a fine he’s faced with to the princely sum of £8000. The pub, which offered free Wi-Fi courtesy of The Cloud network, has been handed the fine after one nameless user was caught downloading pirated digital media.
The case has been brought about by the copyright holder itself (whoever that may be), and as such is the first of its kind in the UK. That said, it seems strange that the landlord has been landed with the fine, given that the Digital Economy Bill, announced only last week, declared Wi-Fi hotspots as “public communications services”, and therefore any responsibility when it comes to misuse should sit with the users, not the service providers. Problem is, there’s legally no need for these providers to keep tabs on who’s using it, and so Mr Landlord looks set to swallow the £8000 bill.
Right or wrong, it seems that – until a proper system for catching internet pirates is put in place – we’ll be seeing cases like this (where unlucky randoms are prosecuted merely to be made examples of) for some time to come
Shouldn’t the Digital Economy Bill sort out this type of mess!!!! I think not, it will be the first of many in 2010