by Mike Masnick

Hot Spots Elude RIAA Dragnet

from the anonymity-via-WiFi dept

With all the talk about people trying to set up anonymous file sharing networks some people have already discovered a simple solution. Just use an open WiFi access point. Then, there's absolutely no way to identify you. The folks who run the free WiFi system in Bryant Park in New York City have been accused of allowing illegal file sharing, but there's no way for them to stop it. Some, though, are worried that the RIAA may try to "shut down" this loophole, and somehow require computers to identify themselves, even on open WiFi networks. Another question is whether or not this will become a problem for customers of programs like Speakeasy's that let you share your WiFi with your neighbor. If your neighbor is sharing thousands of songs a day, the RIAA may blame you, instead. Of course, the RIAA probably doesn't have a problem with getting the wrong guy. They're just doing this to try to scare others into not downloading music. However, it could become a serious problem for those who believe in open WiFi access. When the owners of WiFi access points start getting sued by the RIAA, it could slow down people's willingness to set up such networks - even though the law clearly states that "service providers" are not responsible for what people do on their networks.

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  • identicon
    Jim, 16 Jul 2003 @ 1:52pm

    IP <> Person

    The interesting thing here is that the courts appear to be willing to accept that an IP address identifies a person. That is, anything that happens on an IP address assigned to my PC is my responsibility.

    This is sort of like saying anyone who owns a weapon that is used to commit a felony is guilty of that felony.

    It's an interesting extension of the law.

    I think this illustrates that the judicial system is not interested in hearing that an IP address or a computuer could be used by someone other than the owner. Given this, it seems unlikely that they will allow an open WiFi access point to get in the way of the RIAA's punishment.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      xxxx, 17 Jul 2003 @ 2:00am

      Re: IP <> Person

      Tshis is not an extension of the law in the USA - it is the law. Consider the case of the woman who is in prison for life (or at least a very long time) because her boyfriend shot someone *whilst she was sitting in the front seat of a police car*. Land of the free indeed.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Jul 2003 @ 1:41am

    Can't you just block the appropriate ports?

    Can't you put a router between the access point and the hardwire connection and block the appropriate ports that the various file sharing protocols use?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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