Clouded Claim: English Pub Owner Fined for Copyright Infringement by Customer Using Free Wi-Fi

There is a disturbing case out of England this week where a pub owner was fined £8,000 ($13,183) because someone unlawfully downloaded copyrighted material over its free Wi-Fi system. The fine against The Cloud Pub could spell trouble for free wi-fi access and should prompt legislators to look at the need for an intervention to protect this key public resource.

It is ridiculous to hold free wi-fi establishments liable for such acts by third parties. There is a need for society to balance the great benefit of free wi-fi against such infringement. Owners of copyrighted material will have to find other ways to protect their interests than shutting down free wi-fi systems.

However, the Parliament appears ready to make things worse with a new Digital Economy bill that would make such fines more common.

For the full story, click here and here.

19 thoughts on “Clouded Claim: English Pub Owner Fined for Copyright Infringement by Customer Using Free Wi-Fi”

  1. Governments should not be in the business of enforcing copyright encroachment directly. This is a matter of civil legalities and it should be up to the affected copyright holders to sue if need be. However, never underestimate the ability of powerful lobbying to induce government to protect corporate interests.

  2. Lottakatz.
    In the UK, it hasn’t happened in the way you describe.
    Basically, we flogged off all our industries in the 80’s and 90’s under the impression that we would become a “service ecomomy”. A continuation of the asset stripping of the 60’s. So manufacturing jobs were and still are being exported.
    You would not see the French or Germans doing this – they will protect their workers.
    The “service economy” idea didn’t work – no surprise there – because we failed to realise that people in other nations are intelligent too and can also provide “service economies”, often much cheaper. Problem with your internet connection? Call the BRITISH telecom help line and get it sorted out by a very polite man in CALCUTTA.
    Result of all this is no jobs, so we have to create some. No industry, so we have to make new laws and employ people who would normally have a productive job to enforce the ever more draconian laws.
    Otherwise the employment figures look terrible and no government wants that.

  3. Bob,Esq. “He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.”
    ——

    Thanks Bob, that’s always been my favorite indictment of the King. The language just never gets old; at least once a week while reading the news or trying to go about my public business I run into something that brings that sentence to mind. I’m just grateful I don’t have as much business as I once did.

    I’m beginning to think the limitless proliferation of petty laws, procedures and regulations are like the often-time false shortages in the big cities of the cold war era Russia. The lack of supply was designed to keep people in line, literally queued up for endless hours for even the most basic items. After queuing up at dawn to be allowed to buy onions 7 or 10 hours later people were just too tired and brain dead to be revolutionary.

  4. My suggestion for a Suggestion Box hasn’t flown, perhaps since I have nowhere to put it.

    Nevertheless I wanted to point out a Thanksgiving murder by the State in Massachusetts. The individual involved was the passenger in a vehicle stopped at a DUI checkpoint. The results of the autopsy – and any dashcam video – may help tell the full story:

    An attorney representing the family of a Worcester man who died in police custody last week alleges that officers beat him before he collapsed.

    “It appears that there were at least 10 to 20 police officers all over the deceased, hands flailing,” said attorney Frances King of Boston, who is representing the family of Kenneth Howe, 45…

    The sobriety checkpoint was staffed by State Police, North Andover police and the Essex County Sheriff’s Department. It was scheduled for the holiday evening and every car was stopped for a “threshold observation,” according to authorities. State Police were drawn to Howe as he sat in the front passenger’s seat of the truck because he made “furtive movements,” authorities said.

    Howe was uncooperative when asked to step out of the truck and jumped out the passenger side window, striking a state trooper in the process…

    According to the attorney representing the family, Howe had been trying to extinguish and conceal a marijuana cigarette and put on his seat belt.

    http://www.boston.com/news/local/breaking_news/2009/11/driver_police_b.html
    http://www.eagletribune.com/punews/local_story_334074236.html

  5. “He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.”

  6. So much for law and order being a servant of the public… Similar destruction is being legislated in the USA.

  7. Additional.
    Off to my tropical hideaway for seven weeks in only 2 days time so I can forget all this rubbish.
    Probably be illegal to walk on the cracks in the pavement when I return.

  8. Problem is that nobody is willing to threaten these idiots with a punch on the nose these days.
    Chap up the road from me is a self employed car mechanic. The same people walked into his garage and threatened to take him to court because he had the radio on while he was working. They wanted him to pay them for a “public entertainment license” because customers and passers by could hear the radio.
    Ten minutes later they are in the hair salon across the road making exactly the same threats.
    The law here says that it is OK to threaten honest working people in this way!
    Note to self: Buy large fierce dog.

  9. We need to pay attention to what is happening in England because such actions are possible preludes to the loss of freedoms in the U.S.A.

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