For increasingly desperate copyright holders such as the RIAA and its UK equivalent, the BPI, in the vain fight against a fatal paradigm shift it’s not just a matter of third-party liability: They want the presumptive right to shut down any physical or technological resource that could even, conceivably, result in a copyright infringement, as Cory Doctorow reports:
Will McGree got a letter form Virgin Media (his cable provider) and the British Phonographic Institute (the UK version of the RIAA) … telling him that he could be sued and disconnected from the Internet because someone used his open WiFi to download music. It wasn’t Will — the program used for file-sharing is a Windows app, and he runs Linux. It was one of his neighbours.
Virgin and BPI take the position that being a copyright holder means you get to specify the router configuration of every computer connected to the Internet. That just because open WiFi makes it harder for the BPI to hunt downloaders, no one should be allowed to offer it, no matter how convenient useful open WiFi might be.
With this attitude, copyright stakeholders and their enforcement arms are making infringement seem less and less like malum in se, and more and more like the coercion-based racket people like Doctorow and other “copyfighters” have been saying it is for years, every day.