Will McGree got a letter form Virgin Media (his cable provider) and the British Phonographic Institute (the UK version of the RIAA (
of which Virgin — also a record label — is a member turns out they're not affiliated with the record label any longer) telling him that he could be sued and disconnected from the Internet because someone used his open WiFi to download music. It wasn't Will — the program used for file-sharing is a Windows app, and he runs Linux. It was one of his neighbours.
Virgin and BPI take the position that being a copyright holder means you get to specify the router configuration of every computer connected to the Internet. That just because open WiFi makes it harder for the BPI to hunt downloaders, no one should be allowed to offer it, no matter how convenient useful open WiFi might be. I've run open WiFi networks for close to a decade now — I rely on open networks when I'm out and about, so it only seems fair to return the favour. Plus, closed WiFi networks are a pain in the ass if you have houseguests, exotic wireless devices, or older consoles and the like that can't handle passwords gracefully.
If I play my music with my window open, my neighbour might decide to open his window and listen in, instead of buying his own music. Does that mean that the record industry gets to order me to bolt my window shut?
Just one more reason not to pay for Virgin Broadband — they're just not on their customers' side.
Virgin Media are the only ISP sending out BPI notices. They don't have to – there's no law or industry regulation that says so. They just leapt into bed with the BPI and the BPI couldn't be happier that they've got someone doing their "policing" for them.
In September, we're building a home server in our flat. It'll be a Tor node so that finally Virgin Media don't need to worry themselves with what's flowing through their routers. It's just data. Like I paid for.