The RIAA is at it again - they want you responsible for your network link, regardless of who uses it.

23 February 2007

Not too long ago, a woman named Debbie Foster was sued by Capitol Records (RIAA) for copyright infringement because someone was using her network access account to exchange music on $peer_to_peer_network. As it turned out during the investigation phase, someone had cracked the passphrase on her account and was using it without her knowledge. Thus, the lawsuit had to be dropped because the RIAA was suing the wrong person (which has never stopped them in the past). The RIAA was commanded by the court to pay her legal fees, which topped $50kus in total. The RIAA in turn filed a motion for reconsideration, which would not only exempt them from paying her legal fees but it trying to get the judge to rule that the legally authorised user of an account or the owner of a net.connection is responsible for all of the activity associated with the account, regardless of whether or not you were the one using it. This puts wireless hotspots in jeopardy; many restaurants, hotels, coffee shops, and libaries around the country offer free, unrestricted wireless access to whomever is in range out of the goodness of their hearts. There are also thousands of people around the country who deliberately leave their wireless access points open for anyone to use because they are good samaritans (no, I'm not being sarcastic, there is a grassroots movement which really does this) and want to share their bandwidth. This means that potentially anyone could be sued by the RIAA because someone decided to download something that they didn't like.