Finnish courts have ruled that the owner of an open WiFi network cannot be held liable for file-sharing copyright infringement that happens on the network.
The landmark ruling came after the Finnish Anti-Piracy Centre, a group of entertainment industry rights-holders, filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against a woman and demanded €6000 in compensation for file-sharing conducted on her open WiFi network. However, a Finnish District Court today ruled in the woman's favor.
"This alleged copyright infringement had taken place in a specific 12-minute period in July 14 2010, a date when a summer theater play with an audience of around hundred people was held at the premises of the former school owned and resided by the lady," reads a statement from Turre Legal, the law firm representing the woman.
"The applicants were unable to provide any evidence that the connection-owner herself had been involved in the file-sharing. The court thus examined whether the mere act of providing a WiFi connection not protected with a password can be deemed to constitute a copyright-infringing act."
Turre said that the Anti-Piracy Centre also tried to get an injunction that would prevent the defendant from committing any similar acts in the future. Such an injunction, had it been granted granted, would have given rights-owners the ability to shut open WiFi networks in cases of similar infringements by incidental visitors and customers. Luckily, the courts concluded that the WiFi owner cannot be deemed liable for infringements actually committed by third parties.
The Anti-Piracy Centre can still appeal the ruling. If they choose to do so, they'll be doing it at the Vaasa Court of Appeals.