Technology and Business Law Blog

Site Linking Illegal in UK

On-line website TV-Links a UK based site was shut down last week by the local police and the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT). What TV-Links does is that it provides links to TV shows and other videos posted on various video-sharing websites like YouTube or Google. The site by itself did not host any cpoyrighted content.

A FACT spokesman said that: “Sites such as TV Links contribute to and profit from copyright infringement by identifying, posting, organising, and indexing links to infringing content found on the Internet that users can then view on demand by visiting these illegal sites,”

This sounds real interesting since in the US in the recent Perfect 10 v. Google case the appellate court held that Google was not liable for copyright infringement for linking thumbnail pictures from Perfect 10’s site and the court held that Google’s use of the thumbnail pictures was “transformative” and considered it to be “fair use” under 17 U.S.C. Section 107 of the Copyright Act. The court stated that Google is operating a comprehensive search engine that only incidentally indexes infringing websites.

So if TV-Links was US based, I wonder how the US courts would view TV-Links activity. While linking is not a crime in the US, it is a crime under the UK IP law and would come under “facilitation” of copyright infringement. Since the copyright laws vary in different countries, a site considered infringing in one country can be shut down there but can be hosted in another country. 

Can downloading music and video on-line and file sharing be permanently stopped? Can piracy be stopped? No, once a site is taken down another crops up. RIAA’s shut down of Napster has not eliminated or even diminished file sharing. Tons of p2p programs are out there which makes getting copyrighted stuff a child’s play. For every site that is taken down dozens crop up and for every person who is prosecuted thousands go free.

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October 24, 2007 - Posted by | Copyright, Piracy, site linking

2 Comments »

  1. http://piratewatch.wikispaces.com/

    Comment by Jakob | October 25, 2007 | Reply

  2. The differences between UK and US law are always interesting to ponder. The two started out with most of the same principles but seem to have drifted apart in recent years.

    Anyway, as far as how the courts would have treated the site if it were US based is unclear. One could argue under the Grokster ruling that such a site could be guilty of inducing copyright infringement but that case was a civil matter and not a criminal one.

    You point to perfect 10 v. Google which dealt more with thumbnails than linking but might offer some insight. It would be an interesting case to put it mildly.

    But the big picture, as you pointed out, is that this is not going away for the record labels or movie studios. No amount of enforcement is going to make this stop.

    Excellent article and thank you for giving me something to ponder.

    Comment by Jonathan Bailey | October 25, 2007 | Reply


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