Open Wi-Fi and Copyright: A Primer for Network Operators
Open networks provide Internet access to the public. Users do not need to subscribe—they simply connect their devices, often over a wireless connection. For instance, the City of San Francisco recently deployed a free, public Wi-Fi network along a three-mile stretch of Market Street. Similarly, the Open Wireless Movement encourages owners of home Wi-Fi hotspots to open their networks to the public. Operators of open networks may worry that they could be liable if people use their networks to engage in copyright infringement. This white paper generally explains the scope and limits of secondary liability for the acts of users, and additional steps network operators may choose to take to further limit any legal risk.