Unsecured wifi might be contributory negligence

Roland Perry lists at internetpolicyagency.com
Sat Feb 18 13:17:08 GMT 2012

In article 
<CADWvR2j5ZEzrV+eugD5xpE3MZAD7XL9vcd+V05ch29X9-BoJqQ at mail.gmail.com>, 
Igor Mozolevsky <mozolevsky at gmail.com> writes
>On 7 February 2012 16:24, Roland Perry <lists at internetpolicyagency.com> wrote:
>> "A federal lawsuit filed in Massachusetts could test the question of whether
>> individuals who leave their wireless networks unsecured can be held liable
>> if someone uses the network to illegally download copyrighted content."
>> <http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9224003/Copyright_lawsuit_targets
>> _owners_of_non_secure_wireless_networks>
>Despite all the analogies in the thread focusing mainly on breach of
>duty of care, there is no established duty of care between an Internet
>user and the rest of the users on the Internet, and especially no DoC
>of an Internet user to an IP rights holder.

I'm not sure why "contributory negligence" has morphed into "a duty of 
care". But I'll make a stab at why CN is involved.

First of all you have to admit that intellectual property theft is a 
unlawful, if not it's moot, but a different point of law.

Then we must realise that the "thief" has been identified by the IP 
address of the router. But his excuse is "a stowaway dunnit". The 
contributory negligence presumably arises as a result of the lack of 
measures used by the router's owner/subscriber to secure it from 

I have no idea if this line of argument will prevail, I'm simply 
bringing it to the list's attention that such a lawsuit has been filed.

>I have no idea to what extent the American law follows these
>principles, but I think it's going to be a very long time before
>similar is tried in this jurisdiction.

Maybe so, but it's clear the story I highlighted was in the USA.
Roland Perry

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