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MPAA Shuts Down Town's Municipal WiFi Over 1 Download 323

Posted by timothy
from the so-you're-sure-you-want-gov't-run-wifi? dept.
nam37 writes with this BoingBoing snippet "The MPAA has successfully shut down an entire town's municipal WiFi because a single user was found to be downloading a copyrighted movie. Rather than being embarrassed by this gross example of collective punishment (a practice outlawed in the Geneva conventions) against Coshocton, OH, the MPAA's spokeslizard took the opportunity to cry poor (even though the studios are bringing in record box-office and aftermarket receipts)."
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MPAA Shuts Down Town's Municipal WiFi Over 1 Download

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  • by transparen (1668962) * on Thursday November 12, 2009 @04:43PM (#30078534) Homepage Journal

    I find it hard to believe that they would have shut down the Wifi simply because of a *possible* lawsuit.... Maybe they didn't really want the WiFi after all?

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday November 12, 2009 @04:46PM (#30078600) Journal
      "Likelihood of being fired because the town lost its shirt in 'MPAA vs. All Humanity' on your watch" > "Likelihood of being fired because you shut down the wi-fi hotspot".
    • by meerling (1487879) on Thursday November 12, 2009 @05:09PM (#30078964)
      ianal - I think you're right, since ISPs are protected by safe harbour provisions, and the MPAA has to file lawsuits against individuals, even if it's a jane/john doe discovery thing. Of course, if they can't identify who did it, which the article seems to indicate, they can't sue anybody, but that never seems to stop them from baseless threats and bluster.

      (Or for that matter, lack of accuracy doesn't slow those rabid vultures down either...)
    • by h4rm0ny (722443) on Thursday November 12, 2009 @05:32PM (#30079334) Journal

      Actually, it's more a case of something less. This is another Cory Doctorow nonsense-piece. What appears to have happened is that the town had a set up a single shared wifi network running from a single connection which they allowed anyone to use. The MPAA sent a letter saying that this connection was being used for downloading copyrighted material without permission and the Sheriff's office panicked and shut it down.

      FOX News doesn't distort the facts for their agenda as much as this guy has. (Well, not all the time, anyway).
      • by h4rm0ny (722443) on Thursday November 12, 2009 @05:39PM (#30079484) Journal

        I've found more information on this as well, actually. Far from being a whole town, the wireless network was a free network broadcast for ONE BLOCK around the county courthouse.

        So real situation: Someone opens up a wireless network with open access in one block of the town. Someone (very probably) did something illegal with it. The people who pay for the connection get a letter saying there is illegal usage being made of it and decide to shut it down.
        The Slashdot Headline and Doctorow Blog:MPAA shut down entire town's Municipal WiFi against their will. Contravention of Geneva Conventions.

        This is utter garbage and the editors if they were doing their job would post an update on the story right now.
        • by SpaceLifeForm (228190) on Thursday November 12, 2009 @07:13PM (#30081006)
          I wonder which MPAA employee did the drive-by download.
      • by T.E.D. (34228) on Thursday November 12, 2009 @07:03PM (#30080858)

        FOX News doesn't distort the facts for their agenda as much as this guy has. (Well, not all the time, anyway).

        Ooooooh. Now that's a low blow.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jd (1658)

      Bear in mind that politicos can get voted out very easily, so tend to be nervous types when accused of something that smacks of scandal. (Widespread fraud is one thing, but accusations in the press of sponsoring pirates or spending tax dollars in bringing down Hollywood... No sane politician would take that kind of risk.)

      Also bear in mind that most politicians are technically ignorant and are unlikely to know the difference between aiding and abetting in an electronic crime versus being a common carrier.

      Fin

    • by TyroneShoe (912878) on Thursday November 12, 2009 @06:11PM (#30080076)
      The problem is that Coshocton is a pathetic little hick town east of Columbus, OH. The primary product that it produces is poor people and poorer people. The last time I went there, the high points of my trip were a blizzard from DQ and leaving. The reason they didn't fight the case is because the town is SO freaking poor that they didn't stand a chance. It's sad too because for such a little podunk town, they actually did something smart and progressive: muni wifi. Their reward for doing so? The MPAA Whambulance.
      • by HeronBlademaster (1079477) <heron@xnapid.com> on Thursday November 12, 2009 @07:36PM (#30081268) Homepage

        Obviously you didn't RTFA.

        Their "Municipal Wifi" covers a one block area around the courthouse, which probably just means the block that the courthouse is on. That's hardly "municipal". Maybe you can call a single open access point "progressive", but come on... TFA is obviously blowing things way out of proportion.

        Furthermore, the MPAA didn't even ask them to shut it down. They simply notified the ISP of an illegal download, the ISP notified the access point operators, and then the AP operators shut down the access points. Basically, the politicians panicked.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by kcbrown (7426)

          Their "Municipal Wifi" covers a one block area around the courthouse, which probably just means the block that the courthouse is on. That's hardly "municipal".

          Well, for that particular town, one block probably does cover the whole town!

          :-D

  • by Saxerman (253676) * on Thursday November 12, 2009 @04:45PM (#30078566) Homepage

    Wow, talk about misrepresenting the facts. I hate the way the MPAA is using copyright law as much as the next digital rights activist. But, for the record, the MPAA didn't take down the network. They just sent their usual infringement notice to the ISP, who then forwarded it on to Coshocton County. The county then made the decision to shut down the wifi service, they weren't ordered to by any judge or MPAA executive/lawyer/asshat.

    http://www.mediapost.com/publications/?fa=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=117273 [mediapost.com]

    • by TubeSteak (669689) on Thursday November 12, 2009 @04:53PM (#30078702) Journal

      I RTFA and I can't be the only one who sees a discongruence between "an entire town's municipal WiFi" & "the 300 block".

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        I RTFA and I can't be the only one who sees a discongruence between "an entire town's municipal WiFi" & "the 300 block".

        But telling the truth isn't quite as sensationalist! I mean he even said that this was against the Geneva Convention! THE GENEVA CONVENTION!!!!1111ONE

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Imrik (148191)

        They are one and the same, the 300 block is the only section of the town serviced by the municipal WiFi.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by C10H14N2 (640033)

      I am going to guess this had something to do with certain officials owing a favor or two to something relating to this:

      "This short-range service is entirely separate from the wireless broadband being deployed throughout the county by Lightspeed."

    • by radtea (464814) on Thursday November 12, 2009 @04:58PM (#30078788)

      Wow, talk about misrepresenting the facts

      Well, it is boingboing after all, which is the 'Net's equivalent of Orwell's "Two Minutes Hate": the editors post inane stories in the most inflammatory language possible, the crowd all goes apeshit for a short time, and then moves on to the next thing, having done nothing, accomplished nothing, and learned nothing.

    • by jythie (914043) on Thursday November 12, 2009 @05:12PM (#30079014)

      While that clears up the mechanics, it still points to the MPAA being too powerful since it is an example of a private company being able to control a public government though simple fear of ending up in the crosshairs.

      When governments fear corporations, we have gone through full circle though capitalism and can arrive on the other side of communism.

    • The county then made the decision to shut down the wifi service, they weren't ordered to

      Yes, a local government organisation caved in due to a single threat from a highly feared organisation.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Hurricane78 (562437)

      Uuum, you apparently don't no a thing about psychology. No problem, I did think all my life, that humans are not the weak spineless obeying losers that they are.
      Most humans will with a high likeliness, obey whatever you tell them to do. Even torture and murder a person.
      As long as they think it must be right, because someone who dominates them with his strong (view of) reality, thinks it's right.

      So it is an entirely expected strategy for intelligence people and similar professional spin doctors, manipulators

  • Let the town pass an ordinance that requires explanation of the facts and recommendation of content from less onerous publishers in every place MPAA affiliated content is sold or performed. Imagine a local movie theater showing foreign and indy films and recommending one when someone asks for a ticket to Transformers.

    • by Dynedain (141758)

      That sounds like a good way to kill the entertainment businesses in your town and watch the tax revenue move across the city limits to the town next door or unincorporated county.

      • by iamacat (583406)

        Yeah, almost as bad as killing off business of all the vendors that have been relying on WiFi to process credit cards.

    • by h4rm0ny (722443)

      I don't want a lecture from my local government on what I should be watching every time I buy a ticket to something I do want to see. Local government wastes enough tax money without taking it upon themselves to start cultural policing. If I want to watch a film, it's not wise for anyone to lecture me about it. I expect you would feel the same if you thought about it.
  • Geneva Conventions (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 12, 2009 @04:49PM (#30078650)

    Hate to be pedantic.. but the fourth Geneva Convention (which OP was referring to) sets forth protection for civilians in times of war. Last I checked, there is not a war going on in Coshocton, OH and the MPAA is not a sovereign authority (as much as it might like to be). I always cringe when people reference the Geneva Conventions like this in such an overly dramatic and misrepresentation way.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 12, 2009 @04:52PM (#30078682)
      Incidentally, this is why cops get to use chemical weapons and soldiers don't...
      • by Locke2005 (849178)
        You mean the "War on Drugs" and the "War on Gang Violence" are not covered by the Geneva Conventions?!? Perhaps we should refer to it as something like the "Civilian Police Effort against Drugs" instead...
    • by vekrander (1400525) on Thursday November 12, 2009 @04:57PM (#30078768)

      So the MPAA is clearly then allowed to treat civilians worse than people being occupied in wartime by any country that has signed the Geneva Convention?

      • by faloi (738831)
        If you don't like it, seek out politicians that are taking MPAA money and get them out of office. Then it's less likely lawmakers will turn a blind eye toward them when they go nuts.
        • by Aphoxema (1088507) *

          If you don't like it, seek out politicians that are taking MPAA money and get them out of office. Then it's less likely lawmakers will turn a blind eye toward them when they go nuts.

          Good thinking, except it will be the candidates who have the most financial backing who will likely be elected to replace them.

      • by shentino (1139071)

        As the entire issue is completely internal to the United States, the international community has no jurisdiction whatsoever.

        A pity though that the only folks who DO have jurisdiction have already been bought.

      • by Valdrax (32670) on Thursday November 12, 2009 @05:30PM (#30079296)

        So the MPAA is clearly then allowed to treat civilians worse than people being occupied in wartime by any country that has signed the Geneva Convention?

        Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention only applies to "protected persons."

        Art. 4. Persons protected by the Convention are those who, at a given moment and in any manner whatsoever, find themselves, in case of a conflict or occupation, in the hands of a Party to the conflict or Occupying Power of which they are not nationals.

        Nationals of a State which is not bound by the Convention are not protected by it. Nationals of a neutral State who find themselves in the territory of a belligerent State, and nationals of a co-belligerent State, shall not be regarded as protected persons while the State of which they are nationals has normal diplomatic representation in the State in whose hands they are.

        In short, a state can punish its own citizens collectively, at least as long as there's no actual war -- and all you smarty-pants who think the "War on Drugs" is an actual war are impressing no one, least of all an international criminal court. (It's worth nothing that the US doesn't recognize the jurisdiction of the ICC either.) This is why, no matter how much I still resent her, my 4th grade teacher isn't a war criminal.

        It's also worth noting that turning off a service one party provides for free to multiple third parties is not generally recognized as a punitive act towards the third parties in the US. "Punishment" is reserved for actions taken directly against an individual or group. So closing a soup kitchen for health code violations is not "collective punishment" of the homeless nor is imprisoning a father collective punishment of his family.

        Lastly, I think you've got a really sad sense of entitlement and pathetic, comfortable ignorance if you think that cutting off free Wi-fi at the park is equivalent to the kind of collective punishments that happen during war. Read up on Stalin's Order 270 [bentcorner.com] or Sherman's March to the Sea. [wikipedia.org]

        And then stop your whining about Wi-fi. The MPAA is being a bunch of jerks, but they're not engaging in war crimes. People need to get some goddamned perspective.

    • But we ARE in a war. A couple actually. The war on terror, the war on drugs... Probably more.

    • by lymond01 (314120)

      Last I checked, there is not a war going on in Coshocton, OH

      You think not? We are all, every one of us, not spectators, oh no, but soldiers in the war for freedom! Be it in the high desert of Afghanistan, the cities of Iraq, or the wi-fi spectrum of Coshocton, Ohio, we will fight the enemies of freedom wherever they raise their malignant heads. We will fight them on the internets; we will fight them in the courtrooms; we shall never surrender!

      This post brought to you by a ghost named Churchill.

    • by Anonymous Cowpat (788193) on Thursday November 12, 2009 @05:28PM (#30079276) Journal

      well, yes and no. Normally during a war, all bets are off - if you can't keep, in peacetime, to the minimum standards expected during wartime, you're doing something wrong.

    • At least, that was the excuse given when they put Jose Padilla, an American citizen on American soil, in jail without allowing him a lawyer or a fair hearing. Your rights are already gone due to the "war" on "terror" we are engaged in. So don't be so naive. The fact that we are "at war" has already been used to take away our rights, therefore the Geneva Convention does indeed apply.
    • by fm6 (162816)

      Don't confuse misrepresentation with stupidity. Nam37, like most slashdotters, considers himself a legal expert.

      What is it about geeks that make them think they understand the law better than lawyers? Usually to their detriment, as Randal L. Schwartz, Shane Becker, and Hans Reiser can all testify. Or they could, if they could admit to their own stupidity.

    • by Dunbal (464142)

      Last I checked, there is not a war going on in Coshocton, OH

      Well actually the US is a country at war. Fighting TWO wars, as a matter of fact. I know the point you're trying to make - that part of the Conventions was mostly about rounding up people in a town and shooting them for being Belgian (I don't see a problem with that but never mind), not using that well known grade-school teacher tactic of "if someone doesn't tell me who did this, the whole class is getting detention!" but sti

    • by PhxBlue (562201)

      But where are the front lines on the Global War on Terror(TM)? No, I don't agree with that reasoning, but given the spurious shit that our government has done in the name of national security, don't be surprised to see that argument come from a government spokesperson.

  • Non-story (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dog-Cow (21281) on Thursday November 12, 2009 @04:56PM (#30078754)

    Another troll by Cory. The WiFi was using a single IP address and NAT. The one connection was shutdown, that's all.

  • I don't drink Alcohol, and have never spent time in bars while others around me get plastered - so I'm honestly curious:

    What responsibility or culpability does the bar owner / bar tender have if someone leaves their bar totally drunk and kills someone on their way home?

    I know that bars and such are private entities, but I fail to understand how the municipality would think that they are responsible for the actions taken by those using their goods or services. I say let the MPAA come after them - prove
    • "What responsibility or culpability does the bar owner / bar tender have if someone leaves their bar totally drunk and kills someone on their way home? "

      The bar owner has money, assets, property, and a business that can be seized if sued. Usually the drunk doesn't.

    • by nomadic (141991)
      Depends on the state, google dram shop laws.
    • by Dunbal (464142)

      What responsibility or culpability does the bar owner / bar tender have if someone leaves their bar totally drunk and kills someone on their way home?

      In the litigation-happy US, I know that bartenders have been successfully sued for just that. But then again, crooks can sue the owner of a car they stole because the brakes are faulty.

      A criminal case, however, is another thing entirely.

      Common sense, however, would say that no one forced the pe

    • by bws111 (1216812)
      Look up dram shop laws. If you over serve someone, and they go out and kill or injure someone, you are liable. Depending on what state you live in even a private individual has this liability if the overserve someone at their house.
    • by Locke2005 (849178)
      The "Joint and Several Liability" [thefreedictionary.com] legal principle states that even if you are found to be 1% liable for an injury, you can be made to pay 100% of the actual and punitive damages in a lawsuit. This is more commonly known as the "Deep Pockets" principle: always sue the entity with the most money, not the entity most responsible. Yes, I believe it would apply to the provider of free WiFi as well, should the MPAA decide to file a lawsuit.
      • by belmolis (702863)

        The doctrine of joint and several liability governs the allocation of damages among those liable for the commission of a tort. The the users of a wifi connection or the other customers of an ISP are not liable for a wrongful act committed by just one of them. "joint and several liability" has nothing to do with this.

  • I guess we are going to get this sort of treatment because let the media conglomerates and other corporate interests treat us this way. I wouldn't be surprised if the were just testing how far they could go this time around.
  • The town had ONE, count 'em, ONE wireless router left unsecured for public use - by the courthouse. They weren't providing an 802.11n wifi computing mushroom over the city, it was ONE wifi router left open. I'm quite sure that the city still has use of that item of hardware, which I'm quite sure is still connected to the same internet in the same way using the same equipment connected to the same Internet Service Provider it was before. I'm sure all they did was to secure their wifi hotspot. I might cho
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Imrik (148191)

      I suspect that you are mistaken, the wireless hotspot was capable of handling more than a hundred users at once and the county is considering purchasing filtering hardware and software so they can bring it back up.

  • If the MPAA closes every single cinema because one person snuck in a camera to record the movie... It would be the same kind of punisment, the only difference would be that it would affect their business this time instead of slaughtering an entire town's user base...
  • Let's get some of them illegal pr0n bots and install them on MPAA computers, see how they like dealing with the shit end of the stick.

    • by geekmux (1040042)

      Let's get some of them illegal pr0n bots and install them on MPAA computers, see how they like dealing with the shit end of the stick.

      No, remember if you really want to fuel the fire, it needs to be a "competing" organization, like the RIAA and BSA. Therefore, forget porn. Fill their hard drives with a truckload of MP3s, along with a few dozen illegal installs of Adobe CS4 and stand back.

  • Am I the only one here wondering just how the MPAA was able to locate a "lone" downloader sitting on a municipal wi-fi network feeding an end-user count that would rival my local library in the middle of nowhere, USA?

    I guess I'm just a little more concerned as to just how in the hell they found this and which half-dozen Constitutional Rights/Amendments did they trample over or ignore to get the information?

    I mean it's bad enough when you've got lawyers representing organizations with more money than God sud

  • This is Cool!! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Virtucon (127420) on Thursday November 12, 2009 @05:48PM (#30079658)

    Make Friends and Influence People Now!

    Here's how you do it.

    You don't like your neighbor's barking dog? No Problem, just War Drive their WAP and then download movies. Next, send
    an "anonymous tip" to the MPAA. Next thing you know, it's a takedown letter and a demand for money. Now they'll have to take
    that little dog to the pound because they can't afford the dog food anymore.

    I've seen the other comments and one more analogy.. The Roads will need to be torn up because somebody sped down them while fleeing the scene of a crime. We don't know who the criminal was, but he was fleeing.

  • This is great example of "Using a nuclear explosion to kill a mouse". The keyword is singular mouse and not many mice.
    MPAA doesn't care about collateral damages and they sounds like a Dick Cheney and Don Rumfield method of war.

  • by mea37 (1201159) on Thursday November 12, 2009 @05:56PM (#30079818)

    Yet another zealot can't oppose bad behavior without exageration. I have to wonder if the moron who submitted this understands the term "human rights violation". Suffice it to say the Geneva Convention's prohibition on collective punishment was not written out of concern that you might not have the internet connection you want.

    It's not that you shouldn't want the **AA's abuses to stop. It's that you shoudln't be trivializing real crimes against humanity by comparing them to weak-ass shit like this.

    That is all.

  • by RevWaldo (1186281) * on Thursday November 12, 2009 @05:58PM (#30079842)

    LaVigne has done some homework and found a program that would prevent the illegal downloads from happening in the future; however, it would cost the cash-strapped county about $2,900 to implement, $2,000 for equipment and then $900 annually for the filtering program

    There you are then. The MPAA pays for the hardware and the software subscription. The cost to the MPAA and its members is readily offset by the potential millions upon millions of profits that could be lost from illegal downloads from this small town's one-block-radius municipal's WiFi connection. Everybody wins!

  • FTA

    LaVigne has done some homework and found a program that would prevent the illegal downloads from happening in the future; however, it would cost the cash-strapped county about $2,900 to implement, $2,000 for equipment and then $900 annually for the filtering program.

    Man have I got some stuff I would love to sell them. Like my amazing crypto software that hides all of your important data in a jpeg!!!

  • The cartels rely on the fact that 95% of the public who see this story, will have one of two reactions.

    a) They won't care. It will simply be irrelevant background noise. "It doesn't interfere with my ability to get up, get coffee, go to a meaningless job for 16 hours, come home, eat, sleep, and then repeat, does it? In that case, it's not my problem. I've got other things to worry about."

    b) They will have swallowed the cartels' PR kool aid, and will make the assumption that the cartels are in the righ

  • This may not be a popular opinion here on ./ but I do not blame the town for ditching the wifi... Its to bad they didnt think this whole system out fully before they wasted the tax money on it. This is what happens when you let politicians and PHB's make IT decisions.

    You cant have a big city wide open wifi with no authentication and expect no one to misuse it. They are opening up the town/tax payers to a big liability.

    What was their plan if some users started downloading/uploading child porn? What about peo

  • by radpole (39181) on Thursday November 12, 2009 @07:02PM (#30080854)

    Bank robbers used the local highway to getaway this morning. The highway has been closed until further notice.

  • by Casandro (751346) on Friday November 13, 2009 @01:33AM (#30083750)

    You don't build munchipal networks in a centraliced fashion, you make meshed networks which are in the hands of their users. That way there is no way anybody could turn them off. Maybe someone would decide to not offer Internet anymore, but turning of the network as a whole is impossible.

    You can get cheap routers, install the Freifunk firmware and off you go.

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