UK Court Finds That Simply Linking To Infringing Videos Is Not Infringing

from the took-a-while-though dept

We've seen more than a few lawsuits over the years by the entertainment industry against various sites that merely link to infringing content. The entertainment industry likes to make the claim that this is inducing infringement, but if you're just pointing to a bunch of YouTube videos, it's difficult to see how that should be considered infringement at all. In one such case, over in the UK, a site called tv-links.co.uk, after years battling this in court, was found not to have infringed on the copyrights of movie studios. The case was brought by FACT, the "Federation Against Copyright Theft," but had little evidence of any actual infringement being done by the site, who merely linked to videos found on YouTube, Veoh, DailyMotion and other sites.

FACT originally claimed that the site "facilitated" copyright infringement on the internet, despite that not being a part of UK law. Eventually, the official charges were "Conspiracy to Defraud and breaches of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act," which is quite similar to what OiNK's admin was charged with. And just like how OiNK's Alan Ellis was found not guilty, the court has sided with TV links, noting that it didn't actually infringe on anyone's copyrights directly. Of course, this still took years of having to fight it out in court and a ton of resources -- some of which were frozen by a "financial restraining order" during the case itself.

So while it's great that TV Links prevailed in the end, it does show how the decks are usually stacked again those doing perfectly legal things. If the entertainment industry does decide to sue, you're basically facing a huge, costly and painful legal battle, no matter how strong your case is. The system is weighted way too heavily in favor of the entertainment industry, such that they can bully sites they don't like into compliance in many cases, even if they're legal. It's great that TV Links was able to make it through the process, but many other sites don't even have the chance -- and that's why these kinds of lawsuits keep showing up.
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Filed Under: infringing, linking, uk, videos
Companies: tv-links


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  1. identicon
    Bert Backatya, 16 Feb 2010 @ 12:26pm

    No Precedent

    Its not a precedent, it is a ruling from a Crown Court Judge which is a local court. It is persuausive as it is the first ruling on a website using this defence (EC Directive S17) but it is not a binding judgement - another Judge could go the other way if he felt like it (or if he had "the chat" over a cigar and a whisky in the old boys club).

    If FACT appeal this to the High Court and they lose again then it is a binding precedent difficult for any Judge to ignore in future cases.

    As for Legal Aid and relying on that to pay your defence costs? Forget it. The Legal Aid system in the UK has been systematically depleted to the point that very few good barristers can afford to work on the LA rate. This is the repugnant issue with FACT using Private Prosecutions - a defendant with no money has to make do with below par representation while FACT can bring in the most expensive team in the country to crush the defendant. Then, and this is the bit where you say "WHAT!", the way the private prosecution system is set FACT can claim back ALL of their legal costs for their expensive team whether they win OR lose. In effect FACT have an indemnity using this procedure which means they can launch an abusive prosecution against an individual knowing that the mere existence of the prosecution damages the person psychologically and financially. It is a weapon that costs them nothing.

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