Linking To Unauthorized Content Is Copyright Infringement In The UK?

from the don't-link-to-this-site dept

A website based in the UK that linked to unauthorized versions of films and TV shows has been apparently shut down and the site's creator has been arrested for "facilitation of copyright infringement." This must be something similar to "inducing infringement" which is against the law in the US (as per the Supreme Court -- not any written law as of yet). However, it does seem a little silly to go after this guy. As long as he wasn't hosting any of the content and merely linking to it, it's hard to see why he should be charged with anything. The people who are breaking the law are those who are actually uploading the content -- yet in this day and age where so many people seem to think that it's the easiest person or company to find that should be targeted, it's no surprise that it's being shut down, even as the actual infringing content is still just as available as it was before.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 4:49am

    The website had become so popular that in the end the authorities had to act. Big shows like Heroes, Prison Break and Southpark tend to air months or even years after their original US dates (for example, we’re half way through season 1 of Heroes in the UK). Some never make it over.

    UK TV networks invest huge amounts of cash to get these shows, yet a massive chunk of their potential audience got impatient and has already watched it. I’ve no doubt that people would pay good money to download these shows with reasonable quality over Amazon, yet that is (ironically) only available in the US.

    Again a massive potential market goes un-tapped because we’re still waiting for business to catch up with innovation.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Shohat, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 4:49am

    An idiot's way out

    Ignore the legal mambo-jumbo. Drop the US approach to justice, and just look at things as they are.

    There is a website.
    Website's only purpose of existance is to deliver (obviously illegal) coprighted content.
    Method doesn't matter.


    I am not a big fan of copyright-police-organizations, but hiding behind lame legal-loophole excuses doesn't help either side.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Duncan, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 5:01am

    Re:

    Very well said.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Ben, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 5:04am

    Heroes

    Just to point out that season 1 of Heroes finished months ago here in the UK when it was originally shown on the sci fi chanel. What we are halfway though is a repeat of season 1 but this time on BBC.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Ajax 4Hire, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 5:09am

    Re: An idiot's way out, wrong.

    The website does NOT deliver (obviously illegal) content.
    It only points the way, that is a difference.

    As an example, when does the "facilitation by linking" end?
    Should TechDirt also be held accountable?
    After all they did help facilitate my ability to know of illegal content online. They did make knowledge available that I did not know before, knowledge that now lets me violate copyright. When does it end?

    The answer is it ends when it stops.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Stefano Quintarelli, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 5:11am

    The internet may well loose any meaning

    As I point out in my blog, if you link something, how can you be sure that what you're linking is not infringing ? how can you be absolutely sure ?

    Say that you think that what you've seen and linked is non-infringing. How can you be sure that tomorrow, in the same location, there will not be infringing content ?

    The only way out would be a link-less web.

    Should we accept this to help an ailing industry to survive ? Or rather they should innovate ?

    Matteo, an Business Administration student from Bocconi University in Milan, has done some number-collecting from balance sheets of Viacom, Warner, News Corp, Disney and Universal, EMI, Sony BMG, Warner Music.

    They are surely approximate and wrong (for example, they don't take properly into account short-term currency variations, inflation, etc.) but nevertheless they make mee feel that when I'll be ailing, I hope to be in as a shape as they are...

    (graphs here for video http://tinyurl.com/26jt4l and here for music http://tinyurl.com/yrlw8o)

    p.s. tv-links pointed to a large amount of perfectly legal content (i.e., for the vast majority of content in italian, the national broadcaster site was linked)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Evostick, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 5:18am

    Where does it end?

    Wait, what if I link to tv-links.co.uk? Am I guilty of copyright infringement. Is techdirt? How about if I link to a link to a list of sites that links to copywrited material like this? Or if I just link to Google? Just shows how impractical the concept of copywrite is in the digital age. Moral or not, it's just not going to work.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    icon
    slide23 (profile), Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 5:25am

    They Sure Do Hate Promotion

    I refuse to pay for cable. I refuse to pay to pipe so much garbage into my household and then wait for an entire season to watch a show.

    Tv-Links was a great site to find out about TV shows/movies/anime. And then go buy the DVD set what was interesting. But since those TV shows can't stand having someone else promote their goods, I will just go spend my disposable income elsewhere. It will be increasingly difficult for me to sample TV shows to figure out what to buy.

    And it is a serious bummer, because my DVD collection of TV shows (legitimately purchased) was getting pretty large. Of course, I suspect that the studios want it this way. Pay first and find out after they have my money whether or not the show was worthwhile.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    icon
    Peet McKimmie (profile), Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 5:28am

    Re:

    UK TV networks invest huge amounts of cash to get these shows, yet a massive chunk of their potential audience got impatient and has already watched it.


    In most cases, though, the target audience for these bought-in shows are anybody who is stupid enough to actually buy something based on in-show commercials and not tech-savvy enough to skip those commercials. Thus, the mostly tech-savvy downloaders who do all their comparison shopping online shouldn't really be losing them any revenue. :-)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Nick, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 5:38am

    So lets all get sites hosted in Russia or Ukraine or Korea, then we can say what we like, and point at what we like. Be kind of strange if places like that end up as the bastions of free speech!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    fuse5k, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 5:52am

    Madness

    I agree with comment 2 to a point, however i dont see google getting raided/ arrested.

    They link to everything.
    I can honestly say that every time i have pirated anything, Google has been the start point.

    Oh yeah, and good riddance to TV-Links, half of the stuff on that site was dead links. There are plenty more sites that do the exact same thing, and i am assuming their traffic will have increased substantially.

    FACT and the UK government have done nothing to stop piracy, not one pirate work was hosted on that site.

    I saw a link to their legal page on slashdot and it looked as if they had a lawyer write it , it went along the lines of: We dont host this material, we assume that all material posted to 3rd party sites has been cleared for use on those sites.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 5:55am

    > As long as he wasn't hosting any of the
    > content and merely linking to it, it's hard
    > to see why he should be charged with anything.

    More to the point, it's this bizarre notion that since it's done on the internet, there should be a whole different standard applied. If someone wrote a newspaper article about a bookstore that was providing bootleg copies of the latest "Harry Potter", no one would think of holding the reporter liable for "inducing infringement" for telling people the name/location of the store. But for some reason telling people the location of infringing works on the internet is punishable.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Nick, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 5:56am

    More on this in the Guardian

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Tim, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 6:02am

    What about child pornography?

    If someone linked to kiddie porn would you not agree that the authorities should go after the person who linked and the person who hosted it? And to say it isn't the same thing is a lie. Both link to someone breaking the law. One is of something distributing child porn while the other is someone facilitating copyright infringement. The thing is people have come to expect to get their content for free and that comes from Radio and TV being a free way to view content. They get on the internet and expect to be able to do the same thing, but the laws don't translate perfectly. Personally I think hosting shows on the internet should be legal, but it is not. And until that law is changed anyone who facilitates copyright infringement is breaking the law.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 6:04am

    It makes about as much sense as people suing google because you can find copyrighted material with their search engine.

    Oh wait...they are.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Debunked, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 6:24am

    Misleading statement

    Mike quote:

    "This must be something similar to "inducing infringement" which is against the law in the US (as per the Supreme Court -- not any written law as of yet)."

    Regarding the above "...not any written law as of yet."
    Rather a narrow and self serving description of the law if you exclude taking into account what the Supremes say. You are happy to quote the Supremes extensively if it is their description that infringement-is-not-theft. You were all about the Supremes Sony Betamax protection of anything as long is it had any low percentage of non-infringing usage.

    One reading of MGM Grokster is that it adjusted the Sony Betamax standard to bring it forward to the current climate a bit.

    So, let's be consistent here about whether the Supremes matter in regards to setting standards that count in the legal arena.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 6:28am

    Re: An idiot's way out

    Website's only purpose of existance is to deliver (obviously illegal) coprighted [sic] content.
    No, it isn't. Not any more so than Google's.

    I am not a big fan of copyright-police-organizations...
    Could have fooled me.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 6:31am

    Re: What about child pornography?

    If someone linked to kiddie porn would you not agree that the authorities should go after the person who linked...

    No.

    ...the person who hosted it?

    Yes.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Debunking Debunked, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 6:40am

    Re: Misleading statement

    Regarding the above "...not any written law as of yet."
    Misleading? Is that not true?

    So, let's be consistent here about whether the Supremes matter in regards to setting standards that count in the legal arena.
    Mike consistently acknowledges SCOTUS authority. Where's the inconsistency?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 6:52am

    Re: What about child pornography?

    We're talking about apples and oranges with this one.

    Criminal offense vs civil offense.

    As a side note:

    Will libraries be prosecuted for a sign pointing to the photocopiers on-site?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    AC, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 7:11am

    Re: An idiot's way out

    You could say the site was there to deliver illegal content.

    Would your opinions change if the website had the title:

    "Tv-links.co.uk. Helping the law find illegal content on YouTube"

    Then they would be marketed as heroes of the industry, helping to sniff out those shows posted illegally.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Dawid Michalczyk, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 7:47am

    Ridiculous! If this is Copyright Infringement than the majority of the web is equally guilty.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Shohat, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 7:48am

    Re: An idiot's way out

    Drop the pseudo-lawyer Idiotic US-type responses.
    Instead of arguing 2$ court-room logic, try thinking.

    What is the real purpose of the site?

    Stop thinking like wannabe lawyers and start thinking like people ffs.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Andrew, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 7:53am

    Down With Google

    http://www.google.ca/search?source=ig&hl=en&rlz=&q=%22tv+freeload%22&meta=

    I guess Google's in violation now as they linked to a site that provides copyrighted material illegally.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    bshock, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 8:54am

    Re: An idiot's way out

    I don't notice that the authorities arrested the management of Google or any other search engine. These sites link to content as well, and any idiot with an Internet connection can use them to find whatever he wants.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    nipseyrussell, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 9:37am

    "Stop thinking like wannabe lawyers and start thinking like people ffs."

    puh-thetic, why dont you just say what you mean: "think like me you idiots". You gave what you thought was a pithy synopsis and the "right" answer, and when people disagree for perfectly reasonable reasons (many listed above), you say they arent thinking like people?!?!?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Strofcon, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 10:31am

    Shohat's delivery of his point may have been a little less than decent, but unfortunately, he is right. It is dishonest to claim that Google, Yahoo, and the like are guilty of the same thing as tv-links. The intent of tv-links, when you ignore the rationalizations made in previous comments, was to allow easy access to unauthorized copies of copyrighted material. Yes, other sites may link to such items inadvertently (i.e. Google/Yahoo crawling every site they can find), but those sites do not exist for the sole purpose of serving as a road map to illegal content.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    mike allen, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 11:22am

    Re: Re:

    BBC commercials hang on some one pinch me

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Rob Hyndman, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 2:09pm

    Harumph

    "lame legal-loophole excuses"

    That's the strangest description of freedom of speech I've ever heard.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Copyright Dude, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 2:55pm

    Re: Re: What about child pornography?

    Will libraries be prosecuted for a sign pointing to the photocopiers on-site?
    They should be. In fact, the librarians at any library with a copy machine should all be arrested and the library shut down. Period.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 3:05pm

    Shohat's delivery of his point may have been a little less than decent, but unfortunately, he is right.
    No, fortunately he is not right.

    The intent of tv-links...
    Oh I see. It's not their actions that you believe constituted a crime, but what they were supposedly thinking. Otherwise known as "thought crime."

    Yes, other sites may link to such items inadvertently (i.e. Google/Yahoo crawling every site they can find), but those sites do not exist for the sole purpose of serving as a road map to illegal content.
    It may not be their sole purpose, but if one looks at the searches conducted it becomes apparent that it is a large part of their purpose. They could accept reports of domains supposedly hosting any infringing content and filter those sites reported from all search results but they don't.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Madmax, Oct 22nd, 2007 @ 8:52pm

    Re: Madness

    Google is different. Google is to big for the European pussies.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Strofcon, Oct 23rd, 2007 @ 9:57am

    Re:

    - Oh I see. It's not their actions that you believe constituted a crime, but what they were supposedly thinking. Otherwise known as "thought crime."

    It's invalid to claim that intent should not be considered when deciding whether or not to condemn someone for their actions. If you're a complete stranger walking past me, and I stretch in my seat and accidentally trip you, it's unlikely I would be held accountable for potentiailly harming you. If it is well known that I find you to be a condescending and rude individual, and the exact same scenario plays out, I'm extremely likely to be condemned for potentially harming you.
    The law is intended to judge people based on what they allowed their emotions guide them toward, so you can't claim that intent is irrelevant. Don't misunderstand me, however, as I am not claiming that anyone should be punished solely based on their intent - intent without action is not, and should not, be punishable. Whatever goes on in one's head is their own business, and only when they begin to put things into motion based on their thoughts should their actions -and- intent be judged.

    - It may not be their sole purpose, but if one looks at the searches conducted it becomes apparent that it is a large part of their purpose.

    Not quite. The searches conducted on such services indicate the purpose for which people use the service, not the purpose of the service itself. It is similar to the point Mike has made numerous times: just because drug dealers use telephones to set up drug deals doesn't mean the telephone company provides a criminal service. On the other hand, if the phone company offered a service touted as, "THE service for all your illegal narcotic drug dealings," and it was (by some ridiculous feat) designed such that it facilitated nothing but illegal drug deals, then yes, the company should be held liable for it's actions.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 26th, 2007 @ 1:34am

    Re: Re:

    The searches conducted on such services indicate the purpose for which people use the service, not the purpose of the service itself.
    Exactly. So just because people were using it for facilitating copyright infringement does not mean that was the purpose of the service itself.

    On the other hand, if the phone company offered a service touted as, "THE service for all your illegal narcotic drug dealings," and it was (by some ridiculous feat) designed such that it facilitated nothing but illegal drug deals, then yes, the company should be held liable for it's actions.
    This company wasn't claiming to be for illegal activities. You are apparently unfamiliar with the case at hand.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 26th, 2007 @ 2:07am

    Re: Re:

    The law is intended to judge people based on what they allowed their emotions guide them toward, so you can't claim that intent is irrelevant. Huh? Hardly. People are convicted of crimes all the time with little or no regard as to their emotional state at the time. The only time I've been in front of a judge was to argue a traffic ticket and she didn't inquire as to my emotional state at the time at all.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This