How to beat the RIAA?

Via Bernie comes news that the RIAA is starting to drop cases against people who have open wifi networks!

The RIAA (the Recording Industry Association of America) has to date, sued over 18,000 people in the United States suspected of distributing copyrighted works, and have settled approximately 2,500 of the cases. Sue first and ask questions later seems to be their motto. As I have witnessed first-hand, bringing out the lawyers is never a good PR move.

In any case, now it seems that:

if you want to win a lawsuit from the RIAA, you’re best off opening up your WiFi network to neighbors. It seems like this strategy might actually be working. Earlier this month the inability to prove who actually did the file sharing caused the RIAA to drop a case in Oklahoma and now it looks like the same defense has worked in a California case as well. In both cases, though, as soon as the RIAA realized the person was using this defense, they dropped the case, rather than lose it and set a precedent showing they really don’t have the unequivocal evidence they claim they do.

I wonder would that work with a FON network or does it have to be completely open?

16 thoughts on “How to beat the RIAA?”

  1. hea tom,

    a fon AP wouldn’t excatly be “wide open”, as there would be a user/pass authentication for every logon.

    Could be wrong, but i think so.

    bernard

  2. That’s what I figured Bernard – but then here doesn’t seem to be any user/pass authentication on mine!

    Several people have brought their laptops here and haven’t been asked to authenticate!

  3. FON network is perfect for this: no authentication (that’s what FON is about), same IP and your own line is secured.

  4. be quite you

    A wireless router can have security protocols set which require a string of digits in order to gain access to the wireless network. Examples WEP and WPA. I used my neighbors connection for awhile because it was faster… eventually they shoved on one of the security protocols but before hand I had d/l a few things the US corps probably would probably list under theft. But I was using everything purely for educational purposes…….
    glad theres a loop hole. Keep up the good fight. I for one am just glad I live in Canada. An open and free internet society

  5. Did anyone getting sued try bringing up the fragility of WEP networks? An encrypted WEP wireless network can be hacked in less than 10 minutes so easily, and anyone could then use it for their own illegal downloads. Just wondering what the RIAA would say against this defense line…

  6. So true…I believe that the RIAA can only track people through their ISPs (which can be argued to be illegal under privacy laws/data protection acts). However even if the RIAA do have an IP address, it is impossible for them to tell exactly which machine on the network was downloading what. For eg, the WiFi network may be open, WEP can be hacked within minutes and even WPA can be hacked by neighbours with alot of time on their hands. Moreover, IP addresses and MAC addresses are easily spoofed over LANs and router logs can be inaccurate due to ARP poisoning. As far as I know, anyone with a router as their access point should be safe from such lawsuits.

  7. So true…I believe that the RIAA can only track people through their ISPs (which can be argued to be illegal under privacy laws/data protection acts). However even if the RIAA do have an IP address, it is impossible for them to tell exactly which machine on the network was downloading what. For eg, the WiFi network may be open, WEP can be hacked within minutes and even WPA can be hacked by neighbours with alot of time on their hands. Moreover, IP addresses and MAC addresses are easily spoofed over LANs and router logs can be inaccurate due to ARP poisoning. As far as I know, anyone with a router as their access point should be safe from such lawsuits.

  8. Just hope that your network isn’t used for other nefarious purposes; ie. child pornography uploading/downloading. The FED’s could care less if you’re using an open network..

  9. If you have a open network and are wrongfully accused of piracy or being complicit in any illegal internet activities, I’m sure you’ll be happy to hand over your HDD for forensic examination.

    It’ll clear your name because you’re innocent, right?

  10. @ boo yah: Several legal precepts make that completely unnecessary. First, in criminal cases we are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If we can introduce reasonable doubt without forensic examination of our hard disks, there is no need to “prove” our innocence.

    Civil cases are similar, but the standard is “Preponderance of evidence” rather than “Beyond reasonable doubt”.

    As for the feds getting involved for illegal activities – the argument can be made that you are not responsible for ellicit traffic over your open network. Otherwise, the ISPs would all be complicit in the crime as well. As long as YOU aren’t accessing the elicit material, it won’t be on your hard disk, and you have plausible deniability.

    As for FON: It is NOT anonymous. Authentication with FON routers may be transparent, but FON logs the connection and it is possible that they could be subpoenaed for that information.

    You are better off just plugging in a generic linksys router and never configuring it. They don’t do any real logging, they default to an open network named “linksys”.

  11. In any event, be aware that DOWNLOADING copyrighted materials is generally lawful. Numerous “Fair Use” exemptions to copyright law permit basically anyone to copy copyrighted works. The illegal part is in distribution. The simple solution, if you aren’t tech-savvy, is to download only.

    Bit Torrent is much more secure than traditional P2P networks, but it is NOT an assurance against lawsuit. The reason why torrent users haven’t been sued is because their databases are typically only a handful of files, compared to the entire library for traditional P2P modes. Trackers only connect a few peers, rather than every peer on the network.

    In short, figuring out who is distributing what via bittorrent is extremely time consuming. RIAA (et al) focus on other technologies because they are easier targets and their users are less likely to fight back.

  12. I guess someone could be surfing and downloading since my wifi is open. But I could protect it. Then I wonder how they know if I protected it or not? If they took me to court for a neighbors downloads they wouldn’t bother to check if I had protected it. OR what if someone did protect it and then later removed the protection. OR what if it got reset and lost it’s protection etc etc etc, and on and on. They can’t really prove who had access is the point.

  13. Just wanted to point out the age of this piece, it is no longer an accepted plea of not-guilty if you have an open network. The tech is here and is expected to be used; the lazy factor of Americans in general brings more and more suits as we speak.

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