Wed, May. 12, 2010

WiFi-Owner's Contributory Liability

CK - Washington.   The long-anticipated Supreme Court ruling in the WiFi liability dispute arrived as a dud. Yes, there can be contributory liability for the downloads of copyrighted music by third-party users of an insufficiently protected WiFi connection to the internet.

No, the owner of the unit is not liable for damages. The owner can be required to take ordinary measures that prevent third-party access. Therefore, the owner in the matter I ZR 121/08 - Sommer unseres Lebens should be liable for the cost of a cease-and-desist demand issued by the owner of the copyrighted work, the court in Karlsruhe held on May 12, 2010.

The Bundesgerichtshof court issued a press release and will publish its opinion later. At this point, the court appears to limit the reach of its decision to non-commercial uses of WiFi equipment. The liability of coffee-shops and hotspots may differ.

The court places German R&D at a disadvantage. The development of techologies that rely on open WiFi access hits a wall. The music industry just does not like it. Or will German R&D come up with controlled open-access channels on otherwise closed WiFi systems?

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