If someone used my wireless connection to download copyrighted material, can I be held legally liable because my internet is not secure?

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If someone used my wireless connection to download copyrighted material, can I be held legally liable because my internet is not secure?

I just received a notice from my service provider that a civil lawsuit has been filed 3 states from me and the plaintiff has been granted a subpoena requiring that my service provider release my information because my IP address was the source of illegal downloaded material. Can I be held responsible for legally?

Asked on September 1, 2011 under Criminal Law, North Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You probably would not be responsible, if you never gave the person permission, he/she wasn't in your household, etc. Unsecured wireless hotspots and networks are not uncommon, and the fact that someone used your network to download doesn't make you any more reponsible than if someone placed a fraudulent order for good or service over your telephone. That's the law; practically, it may be difficult to show that it was not downloaded by you, if it was downloaded to your address; you may need to testify against the other person and/or bring your own legal action against him or her, as well as marshall whatever evidence you have. You should consult with attorney about what to do; you may need, for example, to sue the downloader and seek a court order preventing him or her from destroying any evidence.


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