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Music downloads mean no free wireless

A confusing title perhaps, but let me explain. BT are currently trying to convince people to open up their wireless routers so that the UK becomes a huge wi-fi zone. Very commendable, especially when a lot of their accounts are bandwidth-limited, so if some guy sat in a car outside your 2-up/2-down decided to leach Lost Season 3 on BitTorrent, your downloads are crippled or chargeable for the month thereafter…

The illegal download thing comes in again with this case in the US where a woman has been charged £108,000 for downloading 20 songs. Bizarrely, the case hinged around the fact that she made them availabl for download, so it wasn’t so much how she got the songs – it was what she did with them afterwards. The prosecuting lawyer said she broke the law by making them available, she maintains it was an accident and she knew nothing about it.

So, folks, lock up your CDs. If you leave them lying on a table then someone could copy them and you’re looking at a twenty grand fine for each track that someone else steals. Well, that’s te loiv they’re following.

OK, so how does this relate to the BT story? Simple – if someone else uses your router (no matter how “secure” a portion of it is and regardless of a logon being needed), any illegal activity goes back to your IP address. Child porn downloads, Torrents, hosting of pirated films… by the ruling in that court case, it’s your responsibility. The two clash completely. OK, you have the defense that it wasn’t your computer so you had no control, but it’s your responsibility and the music lawyers seem to have started a nice precedent for “guilty until proved guilty”.

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