Will the new Six Strikes scheme to fight online piracy and illegal file-sharing be the death of free Wi-Fi in America provided by small businesses? It sounds like it. According to a TorrentFreak report, citing a leaked document from Verizon's plans to implement the new system, business accounts will also be subject to the copyright alert system. What this means is that business customers who offer free Wi-Fi will be subject to the same alert system. Since they can't control what their users do on that free Wi-Fi, they could end up being the subject of multiple alerts for activity they know nothing about. Obviously this is a hassle for free Wi-Fi providers, and when things become a hassle, businesses no longer see the value of providing it.
The Center for Copyright Information (CCI), the group that is responsible for the copyright alerts plan, confirmed that what is contained in Verizon's leaked documents is pretty much how it will be handled for business. CCI Executive Director Jill Lesser tells TorrentFreak that some businesses are indeed affected by the new alert system.
"The Copyright Alert System is targeted to residential customers, and the vast majority of alerts issued will be residential. There is a small pool of home office or home-business customers that may end up in the copyright alert system due to infrastructures in place at the member ISPs," Lesser said.
For regular companies that offer their employees internet access, Lesser doesn't think this a problem because companies shouldn't be letting their employees share copyrighted material in the first place.
"Importantly, the terms of service are essentially the same as residential accounts and if small businesses are allowing their employees to engage in copyright theft then they are violating their terms of service," Lesser says.
But the same way of thinking is also being applied to some public Wi-Fi according to Lesser, because Verizon business accounts are already forbidden to share their Internet access with customers.
"In addition, the terms of service on such accounts do not allow them to be used to provide free Wi-Fi or ‘hotspots’ so the hypothetical café owner offering public Wi-Fi will not be subject to the CAS if they are following their terms of service."
Verizon’s business Terms of Service confirms as much:
"You may not provide Internet access to third parties through a wired or wireless connection or use the Service to facilitate public Internet access (such as through a Wi-Fi hotspot)."
Prior to this new alert system it was pretty hard for Verizon to monitor activity, but with it in place small business owners will have to do a better job of policing their networks and avoid sharing them with the public.
Source: Torrent Freak