Not iPhone: German court says leaving Wi-Fi access point doesn't make owner liable for copyright infringement


A German court has ruled that having an open, unsecured Wi-Fi access point isn’t tantamount to copyright infringement. Follow the logic for a minute: you’ve got a wide open WAP, and someone comes along and downloads a Metallica album off The Pirate Bay. Metallica’s record company finds the IP address, your IP address, and sends a letter to your ISP demanding retribution. You then argue that it wasn’t you who downloaded the album, but rather some passerby, so you shouldn’t be liable. No court in the U.S. has bought such an argument thus far, often saying it’s your responsibility to secure your property lest it be abused. Well, the Germans disagree.

The court said that an “abstract risk of abuse” wasn’t enough to hold someone liable for copyright infringement.

While our courts in the U.S. may cite World of Warcraft when handing out judgments, the odds of one going by European law are pretty low, since citing Euro law would be unpatriotic.