Sharing your WiFi

by techtiptom

Originally posted to on 10/31/2011

A few weeks back, a neighbor asked if he could “buy” some WiFi ( from me.  He lives close enough to me that he can pick up my signal, and he wanted to pay me monthly to use his laptop on my account.

I thought, what harm can it do to let him on my WiFi? I don’t share any of my PC’s or data within my network, so all he would be doing is using some of my bandwidth to access the Internet. He couldn’t get into my machines or my data.

So I told him OK, but no charge. I didn’t feel right charging him for it. I said, “Bring me your laptop and I will enter my WEP key. I don’t want to just give it out…”.  A WEP key is a security code used on some Wi-Fi networks. WEP keys allow a group of devices on a local network to exchange encoded messages with each other while hiding the contents of the messages from easy viewing by outsiders.

Well, I had forgotten that all he had to do was to go into the network settings and click on the box to display my WEP key. This he did, so he could add his iPod to my wireless as well. I found that out when I was checking my network logs…  I still thought this was OK, what harm could he do with his laptop and iPod on my WiFi?

That was until my wife told me of an e-mail she received… See, she is the account holder for my Internet service with Comcast.  She is also the bookkeeper for our family, as well as my business…

Anyway, she received an e-mail from Comcast:   “Notice of Action under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act”

Seems someone from my account was using a BitTorrent site (peer-to-peer (P2P) communications protocol for file sharing) to download Copyrighted work; in this case a movie….

The studio spend an estimated 17 million dollars to make this movie…. Of course they don’t want anyone stealing it.  And with only my wife and I on our Internet account, it wasn’t either one of us… We use those kiosks where you can rent a movie for a buck…  So I checked my router logs, and sure enough; my neighbor had put on an eye-patch and had downloaded a movie to his laptop!

Well, the first thing I did was to unplug my wireless access point.  I printed out the e-mail, and we went to visit the neighbor… Claims he thought it was “OK”, that his friends “did it all the time.”  I advised him to tell his friends that this is serious..

Stealing movies on the Internet is a serious crime. When you “pirate” a film off the Web, you are committing copyright infringement if you download the movie without the consent of the copyrighted material’s owner. Whether the film is being used for personal entertainment or financial gain, the user is taking a huge risk, as there are federal penalties for this crime.

If you’re convicted of a misdemeanor for pirating movies, the penalties are quite severe. You could end up serving a year in prison for the infraction. The law also says the convicted person will pay a fine of up to $100,000 or two times the financial gain or loss.

A felony conviction is much more serious than a misdemeanor. Even a first-time offender could get a maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment. There’s also a fine of up to $250,000, or twice the financial gain or loss.

For those who did not learn the first time, the penalty gets worse. A repeat offender will still face the same fine of $250,000 or twice the financial gain or loss. But the prison sentence could double.

Is it true, “No good deed goes unpunished”??