This is the question that is before Congress as it
decides on what to do with the Domain Name Server filtering provisions in the
Stopping Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA). Public
Knowledge has advocated from the beginning against this provision because it
would make the Internet less secure, sacrifice our moral high ground
internationally, and to top it off it will do nothing to deter Internet
piracy. So while many would experience revulsion at the idea of adopting
any tool that is used in the Great Firewall of China, the proponents of SOPA
and PIPA have in fact, embraced it.
Today, the MPAA and other movie industry groups sent a letter to the Senate urging them to pass S. 968, the PROTECT IP Act. The letter attempts to handwave away real questions about the bill's effects on security and free speech with some awfully weak arguments embedded within its refrains of "piracy is a problem" and "we are a big industry."
No one contests that movies are a big industry, or that there's a lot of infringement on the Internet. But those aren't the questions before Congress. The question really is whether S. 968 does any net good. And from here, it certainly doesn't look like it.
Torrentfreak recently ran a fascinating pair of opinion pieces from two lawyers regarding whether or not someone could be liable for copyright infringement if someone else used their open WiFi connection. One attorney, Nicholas Ranallo, walks through the established law of direct and secondary copyright liability, and comes to the conclusion that generally, no, you're not liable for someone else's infringements using your connection. The other attorney, Marc Randazza, doesn't discuss copyright liability, but instead starts drawing out hypotheticals about the law of negligence.