this is why we can't have nice things

This is taken from very sternly worded e-mail we received from Verizon, our ISP:

We are writing to advise you that we recently received a second notice from a copyright owner of possible copyright violation that appears to involve your Verizon Online account (the "Complaint"). 

Copyright infringement level: 2
Notice ID: 14-32591147
Title: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy 2011
Protocol: BitTorrent
IP Address:
File Name: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy[2011]R5[Studio-Audio}XviD-

File Size: 740146230
Timestamp: 11-29-2012 23:50:20 UTC 

While this activity may have occurred without your permission or knowledge by an unauthorized user, or perhaps by a minor who may not fully understand the copyright laws, as the primary account holder, you are legally responsible for all activity originating from your account.  

With these notices, MTC's love affair with wireless is coming to an end.  We will not be held accountable for the irresponsible actions of some abusing a courtesy we offer at no charge. 
These abuses, compounded with the complaints we receive from disappointed people who are unable to be accommodated, has led us to once again revisit and update our wi-fi policy.  We know it would disappoint many of you if we were to eliminate our free wireless service completely; so, in the spirit of community, a fair compromise would be to limit the hours during which we offer the serviceWe are considering shutting off the wireless during our busiest days and hours - weekends and lunch-time during the week.  

We understand if many of you are upset by this decision, but you have to see it from our perspective.  This decision is based on economics - we need to turn over tables to make a profit - as well as the spirit of Modern Times - we want to continue fostering an environment where people are aware of their neighbors, the surrounding community and the various needs of those visiting Modern Times and Politics and Prose Bookstore.  

We want to give you a fair amount of warning before the new policy goes into effectExpect us to have it in place by January 15th, 2013.  In the meantime, please don't hesitate leaving a comment or writing me an e-mail.  Note that our comments are moderated so as to encourage constructive dialogue.   


  1. Speaking as a sysadmin, you consider implementing a login/network logging system. That way, when you get DMCA'd, you can find the jerk in question.

  2. I'm actually really excited about this because I don't even try coming by for food or coffee anymore because the space is so often completely taken up with laptops.

  3. I am also glad to hear this. I love getting coffee and a sandwich, most of the tables are taken by people using the wifi, so sometimes I just skip it. Modern Times is a wonderful place to talk, exchange ideas, socialize over great coffee and the best grilled cheese sandwich anywhere (except made by my mom.) And it's part of one of the great bookstores. Face to face conversation and coffee - it could catch on!

  4. I'm happy about this. I love to come shopping at P&P, one of the great bookstores, and enjoy an equally great coffee and grilled cheese (second only to my mom's), and some conversation. However, I often have to skip the latter because there is no place to sit - most seats are taken by people staring at their computer screens, nursing an empty coffee cup. Books, good coffee, good conversation, that's what Modern Times is for!

  5. You all need a blacklist or software to block certain sites. Or maybe a system to log on to track browsing. You could also limit browsing time if you had users log in.

  6. Your space is very small. I, too, never bother to stop by, assuming the tables will be taken by people parked there all day at their laptops. Your business will increase if you limit WiFi to off-hours.

  7. I'm very disappointed to hear this news! I'm a regular customer and always make an effort to spend $12-$15 during my stay because I love your shop and am aware that I stay longer than most customers. I don't think that curbing wi-fi hours will have any effect on your Tinker Tailor perpetrator. Blacklisting torrent sites is a much more reasonable solution. If table turnover is a problem, might I suggest changing the password 2-3 times throughout the day so as to encourage additional purchases for the new code?

  8. I support cafe management in doing whatever you feel you need to do. But I hope you'll be slightly more "surgical" in what you define as peak or busy times than what was described in the post. Parts of the weekend undoubtedly are busy here. Other times are not -- for example, 8:50pm this Saturday evening as I write this comment.

    Perhaps staff can make judgment calls about the wifi, or about similar issues like length of time that any given customer uses space at busy times (whether using a laptop or doing anything else) as the situation at any given time merits. Asking people to share tables is another way to help things -- sometimes people need reminders to share, or could use encouragement/help in asking someone to share, especially if the person at the table has books and papers covering the whole table or both chairs. It's not always laptops, and there are more ways to help these concerns besides turning off the wifi or asking for the laptops to go, at least some of the time.

    Lastly, I second the previous commenter's point that limiting wifi hours probably would not have much effect on how the wifi is used when it is on.

  9. Is it possible to block certain websites or are their too many of them to block to feel sufficiently safe from who ever is bit torrenting in your cafe? I only ask because I am not certain whether limiting the web hours will affect how your internet is used when it is actually available.

    I'm really angry at that person who is risking your web security. I am not angry with you guys at all. I love doing work at Modern Times. You are a wonderful, cozy little place.

    Good luck, and you can depend on my continued customer loyalty.

  10. You just need to restrict the websites -- surely most businesses that offer free wifi have figured this out and aren't getting sued all the time. Often people are downloading movies and such without really realizing it. All it takes is one guy who forgets that his bit torrent is running at 9 pm on a Tuesday, and you get another letter. Restricting Wifi feels like a passive aggressive punishment for your table-stealing laptop users, and I've seen several good suggestions above for other ways to handle the seating/turnover issues.