Neither the RIAA, MPAA, nor any other AA can trace users on public Wi-Fi systems:
- Early last spring, NYCWireless co-founder Anthony Townsend got a note in the mail saying that someone on his network had been violating copyright laws.
This type of note is becoming increasingly common as record companies and Hollywood studios subpoena Internet service providers (ISPs) for information about subscribers in order to stop people from trading songs and movies online. But Townsend’s case was unusual: As the representative of a loose collection of wireless “hot spot” Internet access points, there was no way he or the relevant access point operator in New York’s Bryant Park could identify or warn the file trader.
“We brought the notice to the attention of the park management, but they weren’t concerned,” Townsend said. “That whole mechanism (for finding copyright violators) becomes really problematic when the ISP is someone sharing a wireless access point.”
Townsend and others’ similar experiences, no matter how limited today, point to a slowly widening hole in the Recording Industry Association of America’s (RIAA) recently announced drive to identify and ultimately sue what could be thousands of file swappers online.
Wireless Net access through free, open or publicly available hot spots is proving to be a last bastion of privacy on an Internet where the veil of anonymity can now easily pierced. Wi-Fi access points give anyone who possesses the appropriate computer equipment within a radius of about 300 feet the ability to reach the Internet. [CNET]
The harder the copyright industry pushes their legal campaign against file sharers, the quicker users will be driven to these kinds of networks.