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UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of ten of America's presidencies and who has edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. We get over 5 million article visits a year. See prorev.com for full contents of our site

February 28, 2010

BRITISH GOVERNMENT SET TO WRECK OPEN WI-FI IN UK

ZDNET, UK - The [British] government will not exempt universities, libraries and small businesses providing open Wi-Fi services from its Digital Economy Bill copyright crackdown, according to official advice released earlier this week.

This would leave many organizations open to the same penalties for copyright infringement as individual subscribers, potentially including disconnection from the internet, leading legal experts to say it will become impossible for small businesses and the like to offer Wi-Fi access.

Lilian Edwards, professor of internet law at Sheffield University, told ZDNet UK that the scenario described by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in an explanatory document would effectively "outlaw open Wi-Fi for small businesses", and would leave libraries and universities in an uncertain position. . .

In the explanatory document, Lord Young, a minister at BIS, described common classes of public Wi-Fi access, and explained that none of them could be protected. Libraries, he said, could not be exempted because "this would send entirely the wrong signal and could lead to 'fake' organizations being set up, claiming an exemption and becoming a hub for copyright infringement".

Young added that universities will need to figure out for themselves whether they qualify as an ISP or a subscriber. This is a distinction that carries very different implications under the terms of the bill, which would establish possible account suspension as a sanction against subscribers who repeatedly break copyright law, and force ISPs to store user data and hand it over to rights holders when ordered to do so.


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