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German User Fined For Having an Open Wi-Fi

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the half-of-you-are-guilty dept.

Security 563

Kilrah_il writes "A German citizen was sued for copyright infringement because copyrighted material was downloaded through his network while he was on vacation. Although the court did not find him guilty of copyright infringement, he was fined for not having password-protected his network: 'Private users are obligated to check whether their wireless connection is adequately secured to the danger of unauthorized third parties abusing it to commit copyright violation,' the court said."

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I see. (4, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193486)

So does this mean if I accidentally leave our apartment unlocked one morning, someone breaks in, steals one of our daggers or guns, and commits a crime...that we could be charged for aiding a criminal?

Re:I see. (4, Informative)

Itninja (937614) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193502)

If the court thinks you did it on purpose, then yes it does. If it was truly accidental then i think you could still get sued in civil court for negligence. There have been many cases of people not their securing firearms being successfully sued when someone dies as a result.

Re:I see. (5, Interesting)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193654)

Well, WiFi is not designed to be used for copyright infringement, even if open, and such things are commonplace/readily available.

It's more like someone walked in through an unlocked door in your house, stole a fork from your silverware drawer, and stabbed someone to death with it.

And now you the homeowner are being charged with the murder, because you leaving your door unlocked allowed the fork to be used.

Re:I see. (3, Insightful)

gzipped_tar (1151931) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193888)

Comparing copyright infringement to murder is sickening. This is the pattern in which Big Media wants us to think.

Re:I see. (4, Insightful)

somersault (912633) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194002)

Not really, it's simple use of "reductio ad absurdum" type logic to make a point.

Re:I see. (3, Insightful)

sunderland56 (621843) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193930)

No, the homeowner is being charged with leaving the door unlocked, not murder. And, since he did leave the door unlocked, that is entirely fair.

Re:I see. (1)

electrofelix (1079387) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194004)

A better comparison would be if was made illegal to leave forks unsecured, and someone came in through your unlocked front door and picked out a fork from an unlocked drawer and killed someone with it. You are charged with failing to adequately securing your forks and fined accordingly. However you are not charged with murder unless the prosecution can show you did this deliberately.

Note the fact that it's illegal in Germany to have an unsecured wireless network, which is what this person was fined for. He was not found guilty of any crimes committed using his wireless network.

Of course whether it's really fair to make having unsecured wireless networks illegal is something that seems to have been glossed over entirely. Perhaps they should make it illegal to see wireless hardware that can run in unsecured modes and just make the companies selling them liable rather than asking Joe soap to work out how to manage it.

Re:I see. (3, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193762)

There have been many cases of people not their securing firearms being successfully sued when someone dies as a result.

Yes, if you don't secure a firearm and one of your kids uses it to blow his friend's brains out then you are liable. But the GP talked about someone breaking in -- why should you be liable in that instance? It's your fault that a someone decided to break the law and steal your property?

I wish that everyone was held to the same standards as gun owners. As a random example, we just had a guy in our town charged with reckless endangerment (a misdemeanor) for putting a bullet through his neighbors apartment while cleaning his pistol. Just property damage, thankfully nobody got hurt, yet he was criminally charged. Contrast that with automobiles. Automobiles can and do kill -- but when was the last time you saw someone receive a criminal charge for an automobile accident that resulted in property damage and no personal injury?

Maybe we should hold drivers to the same standard as gun owners? I bet the roadways would be a lot safer....

Re:I see. (1)

xZgf6xHx2uhoAj9D (1160707) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193852)

It's your fault that a someone decided to break the law and steal your property?

If you haven't taken adequate steps to secure it, yes. If you leave broken glass all over your property and don't put up any warning signs, someone can trespass or break in and successfully sue you for damages. Not in criminal law, but in common law you typically have an obligation even with your own private property.

In reality you're probably not likely to get sued for having someone break in and steal your gun and commit a crime. If you had a gun in a display case publicly visible from the street and made it very obvious you had no security (door was wide open?) maybe you could be, I don't know. This German law seems to be specific to Wi-Fi, but it's not out of line with other laws and precedents.

The problem with negligence (4, Insightful)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193838)

is that it often comes down to a failure to do right and a need to blame someone. If someone steals a gun and commits a crime with it, they should be 100% civilly responsible. Allowing the victim of the theft to be sued is nothing more than indulging the blood lust of the victim and their family who want anyone connected with it to pay dearly.

Re:I see. (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193912)

I disagree, if your house/apartment door is closed, there was no 'invitation' thus they broke the law, not you. If you have leave it wide open with a sign ' free beer party', and you don't take steps to at least close your bedroom door, then ya, you are negligent.

However that said, you can be sued in civil court for anything, by anyone.. doesn't mean its valid or you will lose but they can.

Re:I see. (5, Insightful)

conares (1045290) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193518)

Only if they make copies of your CD's and/or DVD's

Re:I see. (1)

jgagnon (1663075) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193676)

This is, after all, the one thing that threatens humanity most. Copyright violation is the 8th deadly sin. ;)

Re:I see. (3, Informative)

jdunn14 (455930) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193520)

Though I agree with the sentiment, at least your gun doesn't broadcast it's presence in the house to the potential criminal. That is a significant difference between the two scenarios.

Re:I see. (1)

EricX2 (670266) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193602)

What if you have an NRA (or similar) sign on your house?

From what I've seen on Law and Order, you may get in trouble if a gun is stolen and used in a crime unless you file a report. Just don't wait to file a report!

Re:I see. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32193616)

There is a significant difference between ITS and IT'S.

Re:I see. (1)

jgagnon (1663075) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193696)

Your shure about this? :p

Re:I see. (1)

Aphoxema (1088507) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193620)

Though I agree with the sentiment, at least your gun doesn't broadcast it's presence in the house to the potential criminal. That is a significant difference between the two scenarios.

Are you sure his did? It's still perfectly possible to track down a router not broadcasting.

Re:I see. (2, Insightful)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193728)

It's safe to say he didn't. If he had configured his router to not broadcast the SSID, then he would, legally (in most jurisdictions, I assume Germany is no different), have taken proactive steps to secure his network (even if they were token efforts) and we wouldn't have a story.

Virtually every security device can be circumvented, and as a result the question usually comes down to "Did you make an effort or not?" For much the same reason, DVD's CSS system was still considered an access control mechanism whose circumvention was illegal long after it was cracked and details posted throughout the Internet. (I say was not to make people relax and think it isn't now, but because the DVD CCA has pretty much given up on enforcing it.)

Re:I see. (1)

ivan_w (1115485) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193894)

Virtually every security device can be circumvented

Citation needed...

Re:I see. (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193790)

Well, "not broadcasting" as in "not broadcasting its SSID", sure. "Not broadcasting" as in "Not emitting any RF signals in the 2.4, 3.6 or 5 GHz frequency bands", not so much, since that means the router is switched off.

So a non-SSID-broadcasting router is a gun shouting "I'm a gun!". An SSID-broadcasting router is a gun shouting "I'm a gun, and my serial number is...."

I'm still getting the sense we're not really addressing all aspects of this issue. Maybe if we reformulated this into a pizza analogy...

Re:I see. (1)

zill (1690130) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193952)

So if I just turn off SSID broadcast it'll be ok?

Reading comprehension fail (1)

nacturation (646836) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193544)

The court said that he wasn't found guilty for copyright infringement, which would be analogous in your example to being found guilty for aiding a criminal. You would be charged with failing to secure your residence, much in the same way that he was charged with failing to secure his wifi.

Re:Reading comprehension fail (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193786)

You would be charged with failing to secure your residence

In what country is it a crime to leave your front door unlocked? It certainly isn't in the United States.

Re:Reading comprehension fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32193804)

What about failing to adequately secure a network? I've been getting into cracking into WEP and WPA secured networks lately, and it's a pretty trivial process. With packet insertion I've yet to run into a network I can't crack within 20 minutes. WPA2: not so much. It didn't take much for me to learn how to do this, about 30 minutes of Googling and a $40 USB wireless dongle.

So, while my actions might be illegal, I'm the one committing the crime. Should the owners of the WEP and WPA "secured" networks be held responsible for not securing their networks? The equipment needed is basically the same as connecting to an open Wifi network. The knowledge needed is takes only 30 minutes to learn. The software is free. The intent is the same.

Where do you draw the line?

Re:I see. (3, Informative)

GameMaster (148118) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193550)

Not sure about the dagger, and IANAL, but I'm pretty sure that in most places in the US you could be, successfully, sued for not properly securing your firearms. It strikes me that leaving an apartment//home unlocked when you know you have a gun in it could be construed as reckless behavior. Owning a gun is a right, but you have an obligation to practice that right in a responsible manner.

Re:I see. (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193704)

Couldn't the same be said for all your rights? ;)

Re:I see. (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193734)

It strikes me that leaving an apartment//home unlocked when you know you have a gun in it could be construed as reckless behavior. Owning a gun is a right, but you have an obligation to practice that right in a responsible manner.

Agreed. We have a gun safe for most of our firearms, as well as one of those mini-safes with the four-button combination lock under our bed.

My fiancee jokes that we don't need that one for home protection, as the the combination of what she looks like after being woken up and my breath upon waking, we already have deadly weapons :p

Interesting take. What should I do? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32193968)

Your points are good ones and ones I hadn't considered much. I'll post anonymously so I can site my actual situation:

In 20 years, I have never locked my house. I grew up in a town where locks were rare (we never locked our house), and I moved out to an even smaller town as an adult. I personally think the time I have *not* spent looking for my keys must been in the hundreds of hours by now, so if I go home tonight and everything is cleaned out, I still come out ahead.

I keep no guns in my house (and never would). I'm not opposed to gun ownership--it's just not for me. However, I recently acquired 2 traditional recurve bows for myself and my wife and have over a dozen aluminum arrows. These require some skill to use because they are very light "bare" bows with no sights, arrow rests, or triggers--definitely not a hunting setup. The bows are stored unstrung (but with strings attached). I think a random untrained kid would be limited in the damage he could do. Of course, any weapon is a dangerous item.

Do I have to begin locking my house because of this? Or do I have to secure the bows in a locked case? What is my responsibility here?

Re:I see. (0, Troll)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193562)

I would not be surprised if this has not already happened. It sounds suspiciously like many of the bizarre cases from California.

Re:I see. (0, Offtopic)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193672)

I love my double negatives.

Re:I see. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32193572)

If you did not adequately secure your weapons and someone used those weapons to commit a crime, you think you should not hold any liability simply because you weren't the one to commit the crime? I know in many places (ie: Texas) you are REQUIRED BY LAW to keep your firearms locked up.

Re:I see. (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193596)

...except this situation is more like leaving your guns on the porch with a big sign saying "free guns".

The key thing here is that I don't have to go anywhere to see my neighbor's
poorly set up wireless network. I can see it from the comfort of my own
living room and it might even interfere with any network I might want to
set up.

This isn't just about "something in your own house". You broadcast it to everyone.

It's more like a magical gun safe that puts an unlocked door in every living room on your block.

If you left a gun lying around contrary to well established gun ettiquite and common sense, you would probably be held accountable for the results.

That's true of being stupid in general.

Re:I see. (2, Insightful)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193702)

But at what point do we draw the line? I love reading and posting on /. and my current job is IT, but my Master's is in Anthropology. If a hairy-knuckled liberal arts person like myself can crack WEP in a matter of minutes are we going to require that people use WPA? And once that becomes easier to crack are we going to require the use of the next iteration? Heck there are times when I leave my truck unlocked, I sure hope that if somebody hot-wired it and took it on a 4 state killing spree I wouldn't be held even partially culpable.

Re:I see. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32193638)

So does this mean if I accidentally leave our apartment unlocked one morning, someone breaks in, steals one of our daggers or guns, and commits a crime...that we could be charged for aiding a criminal?

If your apartment happens to be a weapons shop and you leave the door unlocked for a week, so someone driving could easily grab daggers or guns and use it to commit a crime.... then yes.

Re:I see. (2, Interesting)

Tom (822) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193684)

As a matter of fact, in most countries (and US states, I believe) you are required to adequately secure your guns. So if it's just lying around on the table in your unlocked home, you may well be liable. If the thieves have to break open your gun locker, you're not.

And that's pretty much what the court said. Turn on encryption and change the default password and you're fine.

Re:I see. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32193698)

So does this mean if I accidentally leave our apartment unlocked one morning, someone breaks in, steals one of our daggers or guns, and commits a crime...that we could be charged for aiding a criminal?

Actually, yes. At least in Canada, anyways. If you own a firearm in Canada, there are so many regulations surrounding proper storage and securing of that firearm that while you may not be charged with accessory with murder, you would find yourself in plenty of other hot water.

Re:I see. (2, Informative)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193752)

Actually in some countries failure to secure your guns is a crime.

Firearms... maybe... Prank phone calls? (1)

gavron (1300111) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193792)

I like the thought, and others have commented on gun safety. Here's mine:

YOU leave YOUR apartment unlocked.

Bad guy enters YOUR apartment and uses YOUR telephone to make prank, obscene, or threatening phone calls.

The Court finds that YOU didn't make any of those calls.

YOU should not be fined because it's YOUR choice to lock or unlock your apartment.
YOU are blameless.

I guess it's not unusual to find the world mollycoddling the "Big Content" slimeballs.

E

Re:I see. (1)

sdpuppy (898535) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193818)

I think it's more akin to leaving your car running with the doors open while middle school is letting out.

I'm not saying that this analog makes it wrong or right - this is SlashDot where car analogies are a requirement.

Re:I see. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32193828)

If you put speakers to your windows blaring "The door's open, come on in!" Then yes.

Re:I see. (1)

joebok (457904) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193850)

I think it more appropriate to ask - if you leave your door unlocked and somebody walks in and rips your CDs and DVDs, are you - as the homeowner - negligent or in any way culpable?

Re:I see. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32193922)

Actually, yes. Not sure about other countries, but in Canada, if you lose your gun or someone manages to steal it and use it to commit a crime - you will be charged for it. It is your responsibility to protect those of your possessions that could potentially cause serious damage to others.

Though to be perfectly honest, the gun safety regulations make a lot more sense to me than wifi security regulations. In my opinion having a crook use a firearm to intimidate and/or injure an innocent person is much worse than having a crook download an illegal copy of Avatar.

Ludicrous (1)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193488)

See subject.

You can't force someone to have security. Would they have fined him if he'd left his door unlocked to his house?

Re:Ludicrous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32193558)

You can't force someone to have security. Would they have fined him if he'd left his door unlocked to his house?

Ya! If they try to force people to act responsibly and protect their network & PC's so the rest of us don't get bombarded by their zombie-botnet PC's it's just going to result in people calling the government "WiFi Nazis"! Who wants to be responsible for their own computers and networks, anyway?

Re:Ludicrous (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32193560)

Yes, this actually happens. Same for not locking your car, which carries a fine of 90 euro's.

Re:Ludicrous (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32193646)

Yes, this actually happens. Same for not locking your car, which carries a fine of 90 euro's.

FINALLY, someone posts a car analogy! I was getting worried for a little while there.

Re:Ludicrous (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193716)

Wait... there's actually a law that says you have to lock your car?

Re:Ludicrous (3, Interesting)

Ares (5306) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193802)

A cousin of mine served in the US Army and was stationed in Germany. He once received a citation because his car was unlocked. Yes, in Germany, there is a law stating you must lock your car, though I don't know if it applies while the care is secured in a garage.

Re:Ludicrous (1)

nacturation (646836) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193582)

Or if he left his gun rack unlocked. Or if he didn't have his seatbelt fastened. Or if he failed to wear a helmet while operating a motorcycle. Or...

Re:Ludicrous (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193750)

... if he practiced freedom of choice? Seriously, there's only so much I can take. If someone wants to be an idiot and weld a metal spike in their steering wheel, let natural selection run it's course.

Re:Ludicrous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32193640)

Would they have fined him if he'd used WEP? How about using default admin passwords?
This "punishment for leaving your computer unsecured" could be taken even further.
What about fining the clueless for using IE? Or unpatched Windows?
Clicking on shady e-mails?

Re:Ludicrous (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193764)

Is there even a law that states that you must secure your WiFi? Because it sure as hell doesn't warn you of the danger of litigation for failure to secure on the equipment itself. In fact, surely Netgear are at risk of being sued now for providing the option to commit an illegal act by even allowing open WiFi on their device. And all those bars and coffee shops where they basically hand out the WiFi key to all and sundry for the cost of a drink - they've got as good as zero security, are they all liable to fines, too? I'm usually the first to say don't judge the... erm judge... too harshly because they're only following the law, but even to me this seems like a pretty clear cut case of some idiot desperately trying to find a way to twist the rules in favour of the **AA and coming up with a ridiculous solution.

Re:Ludicrous (1)

tangelogee (1486597) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193950)

But most (smart) places like that, whereas they may have open and free wireless, also have a login/registration page which tells you that you shouldn't so bad things, and if you do, it's your problem.

Never underestimate money starved governments (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193766)

In the US some areas charge you for having an accident. As in, you get into an auto wreck and all parties are charged a fee for emergency services.

So, in your scenario, your causing the police extra work by your negligence (just thinking out loud like a councilman looking for pennies in the couch would) and you should pay a penalty. Hell, we should be preemptive and apply a special tax to items you may own which thieves would want, a new desirable goods tax assessed yearly.

The government can force ANYONE to do ANYTHING. Never underestimate what government can do. If not directly they will do it indirectly, and if necessary undetected but that usually requires the target to vanish too

Face it, people have been more and more willing to ask the government to do things for them, who are they to tell when to stop?

Wow (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32193498)

Up next, people paying fines for having their identities stolen. I

Re:Wow (4, Interesting)

V!NCENT (1105021) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193830)

Welcome to my world. My passport was stolen. I was "lucky this time", according to the officer, because they could have charged me with false identity terrorism aiding or somthing. I live in a democratic, western country and not in America and this almost happened to me. 'luckily the police officer was being nice'... jeez...

SS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32193500)

slippery slope. (sufficient encryption, content filtering, access controls.)

Bad Precedent (1)

Pewpdaddy (1364159) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193524)

Not looking good if this carry's precedent. Pretty ridiculous IMO. Much like my own personal battle with building codes in my home town.

Re:Bad President (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32193636)

Not looking good if this carry's precedent. Pretty ridiculous IMO. Much like my own personal battle with building codes in my home town.

Such a brave American hero. I have a dream that one day builders will rise up and break the shackles of community approved building codes and regulations and finally be free once again to build their cement basketball courts within thirty feet of a roadway. A day when not only will that be possible but equal opportunities will be provided for you in the form of a check box on an job application that gives you preferred status.

You truly shall inherit the Earth!

Re:Bad Precedent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32193748)

You can't just give someone an anonymous internet connection and allow them to commit crimes, and thats what an open network access point is. Just because you're too stupid to realise this doesn't mean the courts are.

Qdequately secured or just secured? (2, Interesting)

Adustust (1650351) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193538)

"'Private users are obligated to check whether their wireless connection is adequately secured to the danger of unauthorized third parties abusing it to commit copyright violation,' the court said." What exactly do they mean by adequately secured? Can they fine us for using WEP or WPA instead of the latest and greatest?

Re:Qdequately secured or just secured? (4, Funny)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193662)

What exactly do they mean by adequately secured?

Your wireless router or access point must be secured by a either bicycle lock, a knotted jumble of bungie cords, an aggressive dog or cat, or a large glob of superglue.

Excuse me while I attempt this... (4, Funny)

MachDelta (704883) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193540)

In soviet Germany, WiFi unsecures you!

Or your wallet, anyways.

Bad Passwords? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32193556)

From Article:
"...if a third party takes advantage of their unprotected WLAN connection..."

So, what would happen if you just had a lousy password? (say the same as your ssid, or something like that).
Could you say it is "protected" in the sense that the person had to do something to use it, and not just use it?
I know they also say that it needs to be "adequately secured," but who defines "adequately?"

Re:Bad Passwords? (1)

chaodyn (1313729) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193608)

From the same Article: "The court also limited its decision, ruling that users could not be expected to constantly update their wireless connection's security — they are only required to protect their Internet access by setting up a password when they first install it."

Re:Bad Passwords? (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193822)

What if they do the same as the coffee shops and libraries - set up a password and then just hand it out to everyone? (and why do they think it's okay that private individuals aren't allowed to share a service they pay for!)

Two sides to a coin (1)

Anarki2004 (1652007) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193564)

This could be great for promoting better security among citizens, but what happens when they use a weak password? Or what if I have the processing power and time to get their encryption key? Is the individual still responsible for all data transferred over his network?

Let me get this straight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32193588)

Say I have some land behind a drive in movie theater. Some one sets up a camera on this land and films movies and posts them on the internet. Is it my fault for not fencing or posting guards to prevent this? I'm pro copyright but this is nuts.

So if I understand this correctly... (5, Interesting)

toooskies (1810002) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193590)

He was fined 100 euro because a single user downloaded a single song illegally. One song. A hundred twenty-five times its retail value. And he didn't even download it. Copyright is out of control.

Re:So if I understand this correctly... (1)

seanvaandering (604658) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193656)

One song. A hundred twenty-five times its retail value.

You telling me Britney Spears isn't worth at least that?

Re:So if I understand this correctly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32193996)

That seems reasonable. It would seem to me that the fine must be greater than (the cost)/(the probability of getting sued). If it isn't, it makes more sense to always steal it.

Imagine if the only penalty for shoplifting was nothing but having to pay for the item.

How far does this go? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32193600)

Do we start requiring people to lock their cars? Install alarm systems on their houses? Use encryption on their hard drives?
-or-
Do the police start to complain that with the VOIP systems out their and products like Skype, that the links need to be unencrypted so they can snoop?

Where does it all end?

Botnets (4, Interesting)

symes (835608) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193610)

So all those German citizens daft enough to allow thier machines to become part of a botnet are, technically, at risk of prosecution?

So now we all work for the benefit of the RIAA? (4, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193612)

So, I guess now the German people are being expected to work for the benefit of the copyright lobby. This sounds like the tail wagging the dog -- first the government works for the industry's benefit, and then it starts to require the people it is supposed to represent to do the same.

Re:So now we all work for the benefit of the RIAA? (2, Interesting)

PPH (736903) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193756)

Now there's an idea.

The people in Germany (and elsewhere?) are expected to secure their facilities to protect the RIAA's clients. So the RIAA should pay them for their efforts.

Catch 22 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32193618)

They fine you for having an open access point, but if it was password protected and broken in (as wifi encryption is weak) then the owner would of been charged with copyright violation.

Re:Catch 22 (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193798)

And if he could have demonstrated that that was what happened then he would have been acquitted. That's not exactly a catch-22 situation.

Germany officially sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32193624)

Wow. Now, in Germany, your life revolves around the protection of other people's copyright(s). So from this, one can then make the simple leap to say that a barely protected network (WEP) is also offensive to copyrighters because it takes just 30 seconds to break into. Malware on your computer downloads something for you? Too bad, you didn't secure it well enough. Who cares if a bug actually caused it.

I realize this is Germany, and I admittedly do not know their stance on legislating from the bench, but talk about legislating from the bench. I hope this judge is disbarred because people like him are ruining the world.

I hope not (4, Interesting)

Carewolf (581105) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193632)

I hope there is slightly more to this story than the summary suggests. It seems absurd unless they have a law against sharing your internet connection. I personally have an open guest network with no protection, but then so do every major company, all libraries, schools, the trains and even the busses here in copenhagen.

When in Rome, do as the Romans do... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32193634)

But seriously, is "Free for All" WiFi access illegal, or non-existant in Germany? In Japan, there are some places where WiFi is opened intentionally, as a courtesy to people around. Such as in hotels, convention halls, and so on. Not just some individual that figures that free access to all is a cool idea.

While others have pointed out an analogy to an unlocked door, I see it more like a public pay phone. If an anonymous individual makes a death threat from a pay phone, is the phone company somehow liable? If they're not, and it is because they are a common carrier, then how come the internet is treated differently?

This single issue may have been a case of German law, but it does have implications to every modern nation.

Re:When in Rome, do as the Romans do... (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193946)

And to bring it back into the realm of copyright - are libraries responsible if they provide a photocopier for their users unless they personally check everything you copy to ensure fair use? Are Blockbusters responsible if someone borrows and copies a DVD because they failed to send one of their employees home with you to check how you used the disk? This seems an incredibly stupid development, to basically say if you're providing a public service, unless you can guarantee people aren't abusing that service, you yourself are liable.

actual judgement (4, Informative)

Tom (822) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193642)

The actual judgement is a bit more level-headed than the /. summary makes it to be.

The judge essentially said you ought to have some minimum level of security, elst you're liable for damages, much like everything else (e.g. if you don't put the brakes on in your car and it starts to roll and crashes into something).

The standard requested is pretty much "turn on encryption and change the default password".

Most commentators agree that for home users, not much will change. Unless you're an idiot, you already have these things for your home network. The challenge will mostly be to hotels, Starbucks, etc. with their open hotspots.

Re:actual judgement (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32193724)

And why can't I run an open hotspot if I want to?

Re:actual judgement (2, Informative)

nextekcarl (1402899) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193978)

Then you get fined if someone breaks the law using your connection. Do it enough and you'll probably get charged with aiding and abetting. Though IANAL, it seems obvious enough. If you want to be an ISP, then you have to keep records indicating who your customers are (even if they aren't paying anything) so that the criminal can be found. I'm not saying I agree with any of this, but it seems easy enough to understand, given our typical current legal structure (I'm assuming Germany isn't too terribly different from the US in some regards, so maybe I'm way off base).

Re:actual judgement (2, Insightful)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193806)

(e.g. if you don't put the brakes on in your car and it starts to roll and crashes into something).

Wrong analogy. Unlike the car, the router by itself wouldn't cause any damage. *Someone* committed a crime, they should prosecute that guy.

Unless you're an idiot, you already have these things for your home network.

Then I guess I'm an idiot for being a nice guy and providing free access for people passing by. Why am I an idiot? My traffic is secure (I have two networks, one encrypted with WPA2-Enterprise with a RADIUS server, another open) and I have no traffic limits. Why shouldn't I share?

Re:actual judgement (1)

unix1 (1667411) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193944)

The judge essentially said you ought to have some minimum level of security, elst you're liable for damages, much like everything else (e.g. if you don't put the brakes on in your car and it starts to roll and crashes into something).

Sorry, wrong car analogy. How about this one:

If your router is sitting loose at the edge of an open window, then wind blows and causes the curtain to move and drop the router through the window 10 stories falling on someone's head or car, you could be liable for damages, just like if the car didn't have brakes set in your analogy.

On the other hand, leaving your wifi access open is like leaving you car unlocked. So, now you are liable if your car is unlocked, someone gets in your car and starts copying your CDs, or recording off of your FM radio.

Re:actual judgement (2, Insightful)

zarzu (1581721) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193966)

how is that more level-headed? you're just defining the adequate security part from the summary with "turn on encryption and change the default password". your car analogy doesn't work either, if i have an open wifi spot it doesn't just go on a frenzy and download stuff, which is what you are suggesting.

the judgment here clearly means to say that an internet connections main purpose is to help you infringe on copyright. you won't get fined for sharing a fork with someone if that someone then goes to kill his wife with it. a city also won't get fined just because they provided a thief with a street to walk on to reach his target. the judgment is utterly absurd.

This is GOOD news (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32193660)

While some of you slashdoters cannot even grasp what this means:
You can leave your wifi open, you can download anything you want, and the maximal fine will be 100 EUR!
I call that a big win where users would be sued up to 10.000 EUR for downloading/sharing music - this will put a dramatic lid on those things.

Cheers.

Manufacturers to blame? Lack of full regulation? (5, Interesting)

strayant (789108) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193666)

So, if this is how things are to be, I think that this guy should pass the buck to the manufacturer for not complying with local law. Such devices should be regulated in such a way that they cannot be sold to customers without ALREADY being secure out-of-the-box. Otherwise, I think that this should have no merit.

Does it matter? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32193706)

All germans are NAZIs anyhow.

anonymity is illegal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32193714)

judgment seems to make anonymity illegal. unsecured wifi provides only this, it doesn't provide a free pass to copyright infringement. anonymity may make infringement a difficult crime to investigate, but should that make it illegal?

Not a bad idea... (3, Interesting)

FyRE666 (263011) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193722)

Maybe if this was extended to enforce a more responsible attitude for people leaving their PCs infected and sending out spam for months, I'd be all for it. Stupidity is no defence, so if you're irresponsible behaviour is causing misery for others, and potentially allowing a criminal offence to take place then you deserve to face charges.

Driving a car with no license, or instruction is an offence and whilst spamming thousands of people isn't actually dangerous, it affects more individuals.

Saying this, maybe wireless routers/modems shouldn't even have an option to operate in an open mode. Likewise, maybe ISPs shouldn't allow customers to send mail out on port 25 to random machines - just route it all through their own mail server. If a machine is sending a huge amount of mail, it's simple to block it until the user fixes their system. Surely it's not that fucking hard!

Soo (2, Insightful)

future assassin (639396) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193726)

if I left my car doors unlocked (there is no law that says I have to do that) and someone used it to steal bunch of music cd from a retail store I be charged with copyright theft?

Can't Resist... (1)

leeosenton (764295) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193772)

So *IF* I were a music pirate in Germany, this ruling would tell me to leave my router unsecured. The unprotected network fine is much cheaper than a RIAA lawsuit...

Quick (4, Funny)

carp3_noct3m (1185697) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193810)

Someone go find the RIAA/MPAA or whatever the equivalent in Germany is, use their wifi (would WEP or WPA-TSK count as "adequately secured to the danger of unauthorized third parties abusing it to commit copyright violation,'?) And start downloading everything you can think of. Lets see if they sue themselves.

This is disgusting (4, Insightful)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193970)

Free public Wi-Fi is one of the most important public services of the 21st century. It gives anyone who can come up with the $200 for a netbook the ability to access the sum of human knowledge. It allows people to communicate over long distances in many more ways that a simple voice conversation. Anyone who comes up with the money for an unlimited internet connection and jeopardizes some of his privacy (or some convenience, if he uses some kind of proxy/encryption) to let anyone access the internet without paying high fees to greedy monopolistic corporations is doing good for society. Saying that he's doing evil since he's also allowing copyright infringement is like saying cars are evil since you can use one to get away from a robbery. All technology can be used for good and evil, but the internet being freely available to the public does hundreds of times more good than it does evil.

Reasonable Doubt (1)

Coder4Life (1396697) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193976)

FTFA:

But the user could prove that he was on vacation while the song was downloaded via his wireless connection. Still, the court ruled he was responsible to a degree for failing to protect his connection from abuse by third parties.

What if the "abuser" was downloading a copy of something he already owned, but potentially scratched the disc up so much that it was rendered unreadable? I don't know how it works in Germany but according to provision 117 of the DMCA:
(a) Making of Additional Copy or Adaptation by Owner of Copy.— Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106, it is not an infringement for the owner of a copy of a computer program to make or authorize the making of another copy or adaptation of that computer program provided:
(1) that such a new copy or adaptation is created as an essential step in the utilization of the computer program in conjunction with a machine and that it is used in no other manner, or
(2) that such new copy or adaptation is for archival purposes only and that all archival copies are destroyed in the event that continued possession of the computer program should cease to be rightful.

Isn't this enough to cause reasonable doubt that the person who downloaded over the network may have not been committing copyright infringement at all?

So what about a Starbucks that offers free wifi? (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 4 years ago | (#32193988)

Or is that illegal in Germany?

Lets up the status even more. How about a public library that offers free wifi?

But assuming it is my responsibilitiy to detect/prevent/record the internet crimes of strangers in my area to allow the government to prosecute them, does that mean I am also legally required to put camers up all around my property to detect/prevent/record NON-internet related crimes?

Moron judges should be fired, regardless of which country they are from.

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