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U.K. bill would 'outlaw open Wi-Fi'

Expert on Internet law says copyright provisions in Digital Economy Bill would put the kibosh on public Wi-Fi for small businesses and pose problems for libraries and universities.

The U.K. government will not exempt universities, libraries, and small businesses providing open Wi-Fi services from its Digital Economy Bill copyright crackdown, according to official advice released earlier this week.

This would leave many organizations open to the same penalties for copyright infringement as individual subscribers, potentially including disconnection from the Internet, leading legal experts to say it will become impossible for small businesses and the like to offer Wi-Fi access.

Lilian Edwards, professor of Internet law at Sheffield University, told ZDNet UK on Thursday that the scenario described by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) in an explanatory document would effectively "outlaw open Wi-Fi for small businesses" and would leave libraries and universities in an uncertain position.

Read more of "Open Wi-Fi 'outlawed' in Digital Economy Bill" at ZDNet UK.