Attorney Steve® BitTorrent issues for real estate landlords - What happens if a tenant is engaged in copyright infringement while living on your premises using your IP address? A potential legal issue you may not have considered.
My law firm focuses on copyright infringement matters. One class of cases we are involved in is defending people accused of using BitTorrent protocal to download and share copyright protected movies. Typically, a user installs a file-sharing software program, and then can anonymously download and share movies, videos, films, music, software, e-books and other content (all without paying for it). This can include some of your short-term or long-term rentals.
After infringing downloads are detected, a lawsuit will be filed (for example, by Strike Three Holdings, LLC) in federal court where copyright cases are heard, and a subpoena is issued to the ISP that provides the internet access. The subpoena requests the name and address of the SUBSCRIBER on the account. If you are a landlord who offers free internet or wifi access, this could be you.
Naturally, you are not the downloader, (your tenants are), but there is a legal argument to be made that as the subscriber on the internet account, you can be held personally liable for what happens on your account.
The landlord may then seek out legal counsel to decide what they need to do. Likely, you will not want to be held liable, and may instead want to implicate your tenant(s). But, can this raise privacy concerns with a landlord giving out the name of the alleged downloader.