Lawsuit filed against users who left WiFi networks unsecured

Plaintiff claims the users were negligent by enabling others to access their networks to illegally download copyrighted material.

A civil lawsuit filed in a Massachusetts court includes defendants whom the plaintiff wants to hold liable because they left their WiFi networks unsecured. Computerworld's Jaikumar Vijayan has covered the case, which sounds something like a story line from the former Law & Order television show. The case centers on piracy.

The plaintiff is Liberty Media Holdings LLC, a pornographer. The crux of the lawsuit is copyright infringement, alleging that a number of individuals used a file-sharing service to download one of Liberty Media's videos. But the part of the lawsuit that is of particular interest to networking professionals - and from what Vijayan reports, is a creative legal approach - is that among the defendants are WiFi users who left their networks unsecured. Presumably in many of these situations, the video was downloaded by individuals who accessed it through the unsecured wireless network, not necessarily by the owners of the unsecured networks.

The plaintiff claims that in either case, these network owners are liable. Liberty Media Holding's stance is that either the network owners did in fact download the copyrighted video, or by failing to secure their wireless networks, were negligent and therefore bear responsibility.

We won't copyright infringe by reciting Vijayan's reporting word-for-word. You can check out the Computerworld story here. As you might imagine, it includes a lively selection of comments.

We found a legal document from the case here. It is a memorandum dated October 31, 2011 and deals with the defendants' desire to remain anonymous as the case proceeds. Liberty Media Holdings originally identified the defendants as John Doe 1 through 38, because the company had identified them only by their IP addresses.

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