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ECJ says free wi-fi providers not liable when customers infringe

By | Published on Wednesday 21 September 2016

European Commission

Ah, the liability of free wi-fi providers for copyright infringement conducted by the free wi-fi users; as piracy cases go, that’s a classic.

The European Court Of Justice has ruled on a case of that very kind, stating that the provider of free wi-fi cannot be held liable for any infringement that occurs via that wi-fi connection. The ECJ was ruling on a 2010 German case, where Sony Music sought to hold a shop in Munich liable for some illegal file-sharing that took place via the free wi-fi it provided for its customers.

As previously reported, the ECJ’s Advocate General expressed a similar opinion when considering the case back in March, and now the court itself has passed that judgement. Though judges did add that providers of free wi-fi may be required to password project their networks – or insist users provide an email address – in a bid to (possibly) reduce the likelihood of people using the internet access to infringe.