Homeowner Had No Duty to Protect Net Connection

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An internet service customer did not owe a duty of care to a copyright owner to protect against infringement that might occur through the unauthorized use of his internet connection, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California ruled Jan. 29 (AF Holdings L.L.C. v. Rogers, S.D. Cal., No. 3:12-cv-01519-BTM-BLM, 1/29/13).

The copyright owner's negligence claim was based on the defendant's alleged failure to properly secure his internet connection to protect against misuse by third parties. Chief Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz dismissed the negligence claim, for two reasons.

First, the court said, “To the extent that Plaintiff claims that Defendant knew that someone was using his internet connection to copy and share Plaintiff's Video, Plaintiff's negligence claim is preempted by the Copyright Act.”

Second, to the extent that the plaintiff's negligence claim is based on an allegation that the defendant failed to secure or monitor his internet connection, the claim also fails, the court said, because no duty of care can arise unless there is a special relationship creating a duty to act.

“There is no special relationship between Plaintiff and Defendant which gives rise to a duty on the part of Defendant to ensure, through heightened security measures and hawkish monitoring of internet usage, that nobody uses his internet connection to infringe Plaintiff's copyright,” the court said.

Indeed, the court said, quoting New Sensations Inc. v. Doe, No. 12cv03800 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 1, 2012), “common sense dictates that most people in the United States would be astounded to learn that they had such a legal duty.”


Text is available at http://about.bloomberg.com/files/2013/02/12cv1519_012913.pdf.

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