(WICHITA, Kan.) — Free internet is something many customers have come to expect. But business owners can now get in trouble for what other's download. The National Federation of Independent Businesses put out a warning Monday, telling small businesses to take precautions against on-line piracy. New rules can hold the business accountable with the movie and music industry.
When ordering an espresso at Mead's Corner, one of the perks is free internet. "It's critical, it's almost as important as coffee," said Assistant Manager Jeremy Hanna. That's because sipping on caffeine is only part of the reason people hang out at the coffee shop. "I don't have internet at my house," said customer Ben Heller. "I come here specifically for getting onto the internet and doing work," said another customer Ryan Selenke.
But not everyone is productive while on-line, illegal downloads of movies and music are also a problem. "It's out of our control sometimes, we're not monitoring every single person's computer," Hanna said. But when they found out Mead's Corner IP address downloaded illegal materials, they increased security levels. "It's a tough balance. It's so hard because the innocent people have to suffer a little bit because the people are downloading illegal stuff."
Internet service providers are now tracking and notifying businesses of illegal downloads. After receiving five alerts, the business can be held liable. One of the best ways to protect your business is to password protect the system. By giving the password only to customers, it cuts down on people sitting outside and using the internet connection. "It keeps a little bit of balance and fencing , but it doesn't solve the problem," Hanna said.
He says the only fool proof solution is to restrict Wi-Fi, something they refuse to do. "It needs to stay free." So they'll do what they can to limit illegal activity while giving people what they want, coffee and internet.