The ECJ has today held that shops and pubs which allow patrons free access to their WiFi networks shouldn’t be liable for their copyright infringements. In this case a patron of the shop made available an illegal copy of a song owned by Sony Music.
However, contrary to the advice given to the court by the Attorney General, the European court held that the copyright owners were not precluded from seeking an order in the national courts requiring the shop to take practical steps to prevent or end the ability of customers to access such content.
The example given by the court was to require the customer to sign in and reveal their identity (so as to remove the cloak of anonymity from the infringer). It rejected orders requiring the premises to take active steps to monitor what is being done on their network or to terminate the connection where relevant.
The court was only given certain types of order to consider and so, for example, did not assess whether an alternative approach would be to restrict access to certain types of sites through the internet akin to that employed by employers and other public Wifi providers.
The European Court of Justice today ruled that a shop offering WiFi is not liable for copyright infringements on its network but may be forced by rightsholders to require passwords to use the network.