An anonymous Dallas Stars hockey fan alerts us to the quite worrisome news that the Justice Department seems to think it's a valuable use of their time to threaten blogs and community sites that they could be held liable if anyone in their comments posts a link to infringing material. You can see it in a "Welcome" post on the Defending Big D blog
This is something I'll address in a separate post, but we can no longer allow links to be posted to online streams of the Dallas Stars games. While we have yet to be contacted, other SB Nation sites have been contacted by the Department of Justice. Because our site is 'allowing' these links to be posted, we can be held liable.
Now, this raises all sorts
of questions. Why is the Justice Department threatening blogs like this? Was it really the Justice Department, or was it ICE (a part of Homeland Security)? What other sites have been contacted beyond SB Nation? What is the Justice Department saying to these sites and is it an accurate reflection of the law? And why don't SB Nation and other sites point out to the Justice Department that, under the DMCA safe harbors, there is a clear process for the removal of links to infringing content -- and it also provides safe harbors for the sites themselves?
My guess is that the Justice Department and ICE, via Operation In Our Sites, are trying to imply criminal
copyright infringement here (otherwise, why else would the DOJ be involved?). But that's a much higher bar, and it's unlikely that a comment could be criminal copyright infringement. The link itself would have to be for profit, for starters. And while SB Nation or the site might make money, that's entirely separate from the action of the user. Either way, this is quite worrisome and seems like a massive step out of bounds by the Justice Department.
As the guy who submitted it wrote:
We fans want to watch our favorite hockey players play our favorite game. Since the NHL hasn't seemed to provide a convenient, reasonable means to watching games, "unauthorized" streaming exists. Why is the DOJ doing the NHL's dirty work? Some would argue that you can watch every NHL game on their streaming service, Center Ice. Wrong. You can't watch the team for the town you're in. You can watch everything BUT your local team. Since local teams are usually the teams that people want to watch, this renders Center Ice rather useless.
But that's the idea. They seem to think that if such things are useless due to government decree, then they can pretend that the world markets are not changing.