Dale Dietrich
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RIAA Drops Open WiFi Case – Virgin v. Marson

Categories: BigMedia v. P2P UsersCasesWiFi Access

Text of Order to Dismiss (Jan 24, 2006)

In an earlier post I had noted that an open WiFi connection could act as an affirmative defense against the RIAA's IP-centric lawsuit tactics because anyone could have been using a defendant's open (ie: non-encrypted) WiFi connection to download P2P content. It appears the RIAA dropped a case on that exact basis back on January 24, 2006.

Sources: Recording Industry v. The People | Bit-tech.net | P2P-Weblog | P2PNet | Techdirt 1 | Techdirt 2 | ars technica | Register | Neoseeker

Related Article: Salon.com

Dale's Update [Aug 4, 2006): The original reports about this case mentioned that Ms. Marson had an open WiFi and that was the basis of the dismissal. The later reports, see for instance the ars technica report, are now saying that Ms. Marson a cheerleader teacher that had hundreds of girls come to her house, anyone of which could have used her computer to download music. Some reports (eg: the register) say both defenses were used. The net result, however, still seems to be the same. When you can show evidence that someone other than the IP address owner/user had access to Internet connectivity through that IP address, that may very well be an affirmative defense – as would be the case with a computer with open WiFi. While ars technica is quite right that no judgment has yet turned on this point, it seems to me evidence of an open WiFi would be at least as compelling a defense. And who knows, the RIAA may already have dropped open-WiFi defense cases without disclosing this to the public.

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