Pub fined £8,000 after Wi-Fi used for illegal downloads

Customers obtain copyright content via The Cloud hotspot

A pub has been fined £8,000 after web users used its Wi-Fi connection to illegally download copyrighted material.

Graham Cove, managing director of Wi-Fi hotspot provider The Cloud, which provides the pub in question with internet access, told ZDNet it was the first case of its kind in the UK, and took place "sometime this summer".

The pub hasn't been named but The Cloud provides internet access to a number of pub chains including Fullers, Greene King and Punch Taverns.

However, internet law professor Lilian Edwards from the Sheffield Law School, told the website that under existing copyright law, those businesses providing a Wi-Fi hotspot for their customers' use should not be held responsible for unlawful downloads.

Edwards also said the Digital Economy Bill, which includes legislation designed to crack down on illegal downloaders by potentially disconnecting them from the web, would not apply because "the business could be classified as a public communications service provider, which would make it exempt". The bill states only "subscribers" can be disconnected.

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Carrie-Ann Skinner

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