The RIAA is trying to make account owners liable for anything that happens on their network, including people who provide open WiFi. From Wired’s Listening Post Blog:
Debbie Foster was sued by RIAA member company Capitol Records for allegedly sharing copyrighted material on a P2P file sharing network. However, the alleged infringement was apparently committed by someone else with access to her ISP account. Foster had the case dismissed last summer, and as reported by Listening Post earlier this month, was awarded attorney’s fees in excess of $50,000.
For the RIAA, which functions as the legal and lobbying arm of the labels it represents, this was very bad news indeed. If the ruling stands, the RIAA will have to be much more careful about who it sues going forward, adjusting its scatter-shot approach to filing such lawsuits in order to avoid suing the wrong people. But if the RIAA’s appeal is granted, open Wi-Fi hotspots could become standing invitations for the organization to sue.
If the RIAA is successful, the many people who operate unsecured networks will be open to RIAA lawsuits regardless of whether or not they’re sharing music on their computers. Also, free anonymous public wifi could be a thing of the past. Which is more important? Free public WiFi or stopping people from sharing copies of John Mellencamp’s “Our Country.” Oh, wait. No one does that. —MEGHANN MARCO