The town of Coshocton, OH (home of Roscoe Village, a historic site, located downtown, shown here) became the latest victim of the MPAA's legal crusade, when the organization demanded its free municipal Wi-Fi service be killed over an illegal download.  (Source: Cleveland Blog)

An MPAA spokeswoman says municipal Wi-Fi networks are havens for piracy. She suggests customers pursue legal alternatives like Netflix instead.  (Source: Gotokon)
Network enjoyed by police and citizens alike is no longer available

The MPAA turned its quest against filesharing from suing individual citizens to taking down a municipal Wi-Fi service.  Municipal Wi-Fi services, community maintained telecommunications services, have become a popular trend across the country, as they bring free service or lower prices -- as well as faster connections, sometimes.  However they are unpopular among telecoms whose have long enjoyed the benefits of exclusivity to justify expensive service plans and copyright protection organizations that feel municipal Wi-Fi networks create a haven for piracy.

Coshocton, OH had a thriving free municipal Wi-Fi program.  Then one user made the mistake of downloading a movie illegally off a torrent site, which Sony Picture's MPAA copyright enforcement team caught wind of.  The county’s Internet Service Provider — OneCommunity — was subsequently notified, and Information Technology Department was then notified by OneCommunity that the offender needed to be found or the service would need to be ended.

Elizabeth Kaltman, vice president of corporate communications with the Motion Picture Association of America says municipal Wi-Fi are spreading the evils of piracy across America.  She states, "[Piracy on municipal Wi-Fi networks is] a very, very common occurrence all across the U.S., in towns big or small.  [Citizens are] used to instant access and instant gratification.  They have the philosophy ‘if it’s there, I can take it.’"

She suggests that law-abiding citizens use on-demand services from sources like Netflix and Blockbuster, Disney Video, Fox on Demand, Cartoon Network.  She also suggests citizens check out the MPAA website for a full list of legal options.

She says citizens should remember the MPAA will aggressively pursue cases of piracy and that fines can be as high as $150,000 or more.  She states, "We target piracy at its source.  We really focus on keeping the product out of the market in the first place."

For Coshocton's resident's, though, the MPAA is no friend.  The community is now without its Wi-Fi that approximately 100 residents at any given time were relying on.  Police no longer can make incident reports as seamlessly, and vendors can't verify customers' credit cards as easy, without an affordable wireless solution.

Mike Lavigne, the city's IT director says that they would love to implement a solution to block piracy, but it would be prohibitively expensive given the program's scant budget.  He estimates that the costs would be approximately $2,900 to implement, $2,000 for equipment and then $900 annually for the filtering program.  While the MPAA's legal bill for killing the service surely eclipsed this, they appear more content to kill the service rather than fund such protections.

The city is investigating the incident and trying to find out who downloaded the movie, in a last ditch effort to save their now-shuttered network.

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