TV Links shut down for linking
The TV Links disclaimer
According to a report in The Guardian: “A 26-year-old man from Cheltenham was arrested on Thursday in connection with offences relating to the facilitation of copyright infringement on the internet, Fact said.”
The arrest and the closure of the site – http://www.tv-links.co.uk – came during an operation by officers from Gloucestershire County Council trading standards in conjunction with investigators from Fact and Gloucestershire Police.
Fact claims that tv-links.co.uk was providing links to illegal film content that had been camcorder recorded from cinemas and then uploaded to the internet. The site also provided links to TV shows that were being illegally distributed.
It’s a pity the Gloucestershire Police started with such small fry. There are a couple of multibillionaires called Larry Page and Sergey Brin — the founders of Google — who provide vast numbers of links to content that is being illegally distributed. Indeed, as everyone knows, they actually host plenty of illegal content on their own video site, YouTube, which has a UK operation.
Is the message that it’s less criminal to host illegal content on YouTube than it is to to link to it from a site such as TV Links? Or is it just that FACT (Federation Against Copyright Theft) and the police won’t tackle anybody with enough high-powered lawyers to fight back? Is The New Freedom blog correct in saying: “They just have so much money that they have become above the law.”
Of course, there is a difference between building a site around links to content that could be presumed to lack copyright clearance and linking unintentionally from a site set up for a different purpose. However, I’m not a lawyer so I don’t know how significant this is. (Is shoplifting OK if you have a proper job but criminal if you’re unemployed and starving?)
It will be interesting to see who FACT picks on next. There are plenty of newspaper journalists who nowadays, as part of their proper jobs, link to YouTube videos and other internet content. It would be amazing if every single bit of material — some of it “repurposed” — had full and correct copyright clearance.
In future, do I risk being thrown in the slammer for linking directly to a YouTube video? What if I just say “go to Google and search for [YouTube xxx yyy]” or whatever? Oh dear, I forgot, Google’s illegal so that will have to be closed down.
Perhaps I am already breaking the law by linking to Google, YouTube, TV Links, Pirate Bay and other sites that link to illegal content because this must also count as contributing to “the facilitation of copyright infringement on the internet” — and, by the way, I expect you are breaking the law if you link to or even read this story.
Indeed, if linking is illegal, we might as well shut down the Internet, because there is no practical way anybody can guarantee the legality of what’s on the end of any link. Even if you could guarantee it at the time of linking, there’s no guarantee it would still be legal less than a second later, or for the rest of time.