The European Court of Justice Advocate General Szpunar said that the operator of a shop, hotel or barwho offers a Wi-Fi network free of charge to the public is not liable for copyright infringements committed by users of that network.
Although an injunction may be issued against that operator in order to bring the infringement to an end, it is not possible to require termination or password protection of the internet connection orthe examination of all communications transmitted through it.
In the present case the Court of Justice is called on to clarify whether and to what extent a professional who, in the course of business, operates a Wi-Fi network that is accessible to the public free of charge may beheld liable for copyright infringements committed by users of that network.
His opinion will help the European Court of Justice decide on a case referred from Germany, about a business in Munich that stands accused of indirect liability in a case brought by Sony.
In 2010, a musical work was unlawfully offered for downloading via that internet connection, owned by Tobias McFadden, who operates a business selling and renting lighting and sound systems.
In today’s Opinion, Advocate General Maciej Szpunar takes the view that that limitation of liability also applies to a person such as McFadden who, as an adjunct to his principal economic activity, operates a Wi-Fi network with an internet connection that is accessible to the public free of charge. In his view, it is not necessary for the person in question to present himself to the public as a service provider or that he should expressly promote his activity to potential customers.
The Advocate General goes on to state that that limitation precludes the making of orders against intermediary service providers not only for the payment of damages, but also for the payment of the costs of giving formal notice or other costs relating to copyright infringements committed by third parties.
The AG’s opinion is not binding. The EU Court of Justice must still issue a final opinion in the case.