Finland: Open WiFi owners are not liable for copyright infringement|
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Deutsch: Finnland: Betreiber offener W-Lans haften nicht für Urheberrechtsvers...
On 14 May 2012, a District Finish Court decided on the condition of open WiFi owners in respect to their liability for online copyright infringements. In a two-year long case brought to court by the anti-piracy group CIAPC against a Finnish woman for copyright infringement, the court decided in favour of the defendant.
The issue was that the woman had been accused of having illegally shared copyrighted material by Direct Connect (DC++) protocol through her Internet connection. CIAPC asked for 6000 euro for an alleged infringement during a specific 12-minute period on 14 July 2010. However, the alleged infringement had taken place during a summer theatre play with an audience of around hundred people which was held at the premises owned and resided by the respective woman and the applicants could not prove that the woman had personally been involved in file-sharing.
The question therefore in front of the court was whether providing a WiFi connection not protected with a password could be considered a copyright infringement and the decision of the court was that WiFi owners could not be deemed liable for the infringements actually committed by third parties.
CIAPC had also asked for an injunction to prevent the defendant from committing similar acts in the future which, if granted, would have given rights-owners a powerful legal weapon to shut WiFi connections in similar cases.
The legal basis for the court’s decision was the Finnish legislation involving the implementation of several EU directives in the field of information society and copyright.
In case CIAPC decides to appeal the case to the Vaasa Court of Appeals, there remains the option to take it to the European Court of Justice which would clarify things for the EU in general.
The new ruling in Finland appears to fall in line with a lack of liability for open WiFi network operators in the United States.
According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an open WiFi is “a mere conduit for the communications of others, and often enjoys statutory immunities. Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, there is a safe harbour for service providers who offer ‘the transmission, routing, or providing of connections for digital online communications, between or among points specified by a user, of material of the user’s choosing, without modification to the content of the material as sent or received.’ That definition fits a provider of free public WiFi as easily as a traditional DSL provider.”
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