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Man Arrested For Linking To Online Videos 308

Posted by Soulskill
from the if-they-were-rickrolls-i-can-understand dept.
SonicSpike writes "In a case against a New York website owner, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is claiming that merely linking to copyrighted material is a crime. DHS, along with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), seized Brian McCarthy's domain, channelsurfing.net, in late January. The site has now been replaced with a government warning: 'This domain has been seized by ICE — Homeland Security Investigations, Special Agent in Charge, New York Office.' The advocacy group Demand Progress has claimed that McCarthy never reproduced copyrighted material, and that his website simply linked to other sites. A criminal complaint obtained by the group seems to acknowledge that agents knew that McCarthy was running a 'linking website.' While the criminal complaint alleges that McCarthy did engage in the 'reproduction and distribution' of copyrighted material, it is never clear that he actually reproduced any of the specified broadcasts." McCarthy was arrested last week. Relatedly, TorrentFreak has posted a list of reasons why these domain name seizures are unconstitutional.
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Man Arrested For Linking To Online Videos

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  • DHS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by denshao2 (1515775) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @07:20AM (#35470352) Homepage Journal
    Why is copyright infringement an issue of homeland security?
    • Re:DHS (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 13, 2011 @07:24AM (#35470362)

      Why is copyright infringement an issue of homeland security?

      Because posting a link is terorism!

      • by Hadlock (143607)

        I would love to see who gave the DHS the jurisdiction and/or power to do this. Streaming live sports coverage would fall under wire-fraud, which I am pretty sure (IANAL) falls under the FBI. As I understand it, DHS is primarily immigrations and customs rolled into one budget line item. It wouldn't surprise me if this is an internal test case for expansion of powers of the department.

        • I'd guess that it went to DHS because customs is responsible for preventing the entry into the country of infringing material.

    • Re:DHS (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Securityemo (1407943) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @07:24AM (#35470364) Journal
      When all you have is a hammer...
    • If the copyright lobby (I'll rather generously use the term "lobby", rather than "fascists") wants a government agency or a copyright police, I'm surprised they haven't established an industry taskforce with the powers they need. Their own three letter organisation, with the power to spy on, and arrest, regular citizens; sanctioned by the government. I could understand if the FBI were investigating copyright (though I'd consider it a grievous misuse of resources). I could understand if the ATF suddenly b

    • by Haedrian (1676506)

      Because sharing stuff for free means that everyone can get access to it.

      And that's COMMUNISM!

    • Re:DHS (Score:5, Interesting)

      by 517714 (762276) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @08:50AM (#35470758)
      ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) which is part of DHS (Department of Homeland Security) is charged with intercepting counterfeiti products and protecting intellectual property rights . I think they have gone well beyond any reasonable charter since the "infringed" IP is not being imported. Treasury (Secret Service) is supposed to be in charge of computer related issues so DHS really doesn't belong in this.
      • by swalve (1980968)
        Not even remotely true about the SS being in charge of computer related issues. The SS has a pretty narrow charter. And most LEAs have computer crime divisions.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Colde (307840) *

        Secret Service hasn't been a part of the Treasury since march 2003. Now it is also a part of DHS.

    • Re:DHS (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @08:53AM (#35470768) Homepage Journal

      Because Janet Napolitano has little interest in terrorism. She has been bought and paid for by Corporate America, to keep the sheeples in line with their vision of the future. Napolitano has prostituted herself and her agency to Big Business. She, and Big Business got around the constitution by claiming that pirated music and software are "counterfeit" music and software. Somehow, in their perversion of the concept of justice, the counterfeiting of music is on a par with counterfeiting United States currency.

      I once thought that all this nonsense was the brainchild of the neoconservatives - but today's "liberal" party keeps right on with the rape of the United States constitution. Wait til the final version of ACTA comes out. It will most likely give ICE the authority to exterminate entire family trees based on a suspicion that members of the family have counterfeited a music track.

      • by MikeRT (947531) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @10:10AM (#35471328) Homepage

        Because Janet Napolitano has little interest in terrorism. She has been bought and paid for by Corporate America, to keep the sheeples in line with their vision of the future. Napolitano has prostituted herself and her agency to Big Business.

        You're right, she has little interest in terrorism except where it empowers her department. It has nothing to do with "selling out to corporate America." If you knew anything about Customs, which you obviously don't, you'd know that Customs/ICE brings in a few dozen dollars to the treasury for every dollar it receives in base funding. Customs, not the IRS, was the original revenue-generating service of the federal government.

        The reason that DHS is pursuing this is that corporate America's interests coincide with Customs/ICE's revenue-generating ability. If Customs didn't stand to make oodles of money for the treasury, they would be pursuing other work because their revenue-generating potential is simply too important to the federal government to waste on something that some lackeys in the DoJ could handle.

        • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @10:25AM (#35471444) Homepage Journal

          Well - we differ on our view of government, I suppose. Have you looked at how ACTA is being handled by the US government? Until recently, even the existence of the discussions was secret, and the content of those discussions top secret. Who is discussing, anyway? RIAA, MPAA, and other alphabet soup people - not people, or civil liberties organizations, or even constitutional lawyers, or lawyers of any other type. (sure, there are lots of lawyers involved, each representing the interests of one corporation, or group of corporations or another) There aren't even any lawyers from academia involved. It's all corporate run.

          But, you bring up a way of looking at things that I had neglected. The government has been pretty nearly insolvent for most of my life (over 5 decades now) so they need SOME way of making money. Doesn't matter how wrong and immoral the methods might be - they need to make money to avoid bankruptcy.

          Well, I'm prepared to do my part. I'll get in line, right behind the Baby Boomers to get my euthanasia shot, so that the Social Security pyramid scheme doesn't have to pay me anything. Where's that line again?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by swalve (1980968)
      ICE is Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The customs enforcement part of that mission is a lot of finding cargo containers full of pirated DVDs. Content pirating on the web falls into that. (Note: it is a federal/customs issue because copyright involves treaties with other nations.)
    • by paiute (550198)

      Why is copyright infringement an issue of homeland security?

      Man: Perhaps Mr. Reed will tell us what this war is all about?
      John Reed: (Rises.) Profits. (Sits down.)

    • by DragonTHC (208439)

      I was wondering that myself.

      How is it legal for ICE to seize the property of an American citizen?

      Linking to another site that has copyrighted content is not a crime.

      http://video.foxnews.com/assets/video-player.swf?video_id=4582906&d=video.foxnews.com [foxnews.com]

    • They're behaving like it's the Department of Hosni Security.
    • Re:DHS (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Technician (215283) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @12:39PM (#35472630)

      Why isn't Google, MSN, Yahoo, and anyone else who has a search engine functioning under arrest? Almost all content they list in their results is copyrighted.

      I think someone has applied a very narrow filter to copyrighted content.

  • I didn't know that (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 13, 2011 @07:25AM (#35470368)

    The DHS has a mission, to protect the riches of corporations.

  • by Unka Willbur (1771596) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @07:33AM (#35470420)
    Looks like TorrentFreak is making the same bad assumption that most US citizens continue to make. That is, assuming that "constitutional" matters one whit anymore to the US government or the people who run it.
    • by frisket (149522)
      In your hands.

      If you persist in electing assholes (or failing to campaign against them hard enough), you'll get this kind of activity going unchallenged.

      Ireland had the same class of problem wrt their financial woes: electing assholes (or failing to campaign against them hard enough).

      The solution is to stop electing assholes.

      • You can't knock out any one party - it's that bit where if you split the voter bloc of one, the other wins First Past Post.

        It is actually possible to knock out both, but we need a national level Social Network Vote Coordination Site to do it. If we can protect it from major sources of inaccuracy, we could do it by the 2016 election to have the Internet Candidate win by write-in. To repeat, if we had a properly secured social site where the entire country announces their intended votes, changing now and then

        • You seem to have forgotten to take into account things like the 4chan vote, because of them it would be more like: Republicans - 22%, Democrates 24%, Internet Party - 104%. Then accusations of fraud and the collapse of a workable system. Honestly even if the armpit of the internet SOMEHOW decided to behave I wouldn't put it past one party or the other to cast fake votes to discredit the system.
      • If you persist in electing assholes (or failing to campaign against them hard enough), you'll get this kind of activity going unchallenged.

        The problem is that you elect *ONE* person to represent you.

        Don't want to elect a religious nut? Then you are automatically voting for government controlled health care, no matter what's your opinion on that.

        And no matter how you feel about "intellectual property" you are sure to vote for someone who has funding from the big media corporations, unless you vote for some fringe candidate who will have some weird ideas of his own.

        A Congress that decides everything made sense in an age when a letter took weeks

        • If you don't like the ballot options then run yourself. If you can convince people that those in office are corrupt then why can't you convince them to vote for you? I think america is begging for a third option, one not bought and paid for, and YOU are the person who needs to step up to bat and do it. Remember, at current voting rates you only need 10%. Less than thirty million voters and you're the president.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 13, 2011 @07:34AM (#35470426)

    The annual deficit is $1,400,000,000,000. and they are wasting money on crap like this?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 13, 2011 @07:35AM (#35470428)

    Domain name seizures cause damage. We should be able to route around it. Frankly, I don't want to care whether it's unconstitutional or not, I want it to be technically infeasible.

  • by lahvak (69490) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @07:41AM (#35470456) Homepage Journal

    Wow, I feel so much more secure now that they have stopped this dangerous terrorist from endangering my country!

  • by TaoPhoenix (980487) <TaoPhoenix@yahoo.com> on Sunday March 13, 2011 @07:41AM (#35470458) Journal

    This is it folks.

    Notice that the summary talks about "linking to videos". However, as we now know, both words and pics of any kind are copyrighted from the moment someone creates them. Reply with Quote? Look! It's a copy! Hotlinking pics? Linking!

    For the third time I'll float my "subset" theory. They started small with "SomeGuy" (subset of everyone) and "SomeCategory" (videos, subset of all copyrighted items). This has the effect of keeping people looking at trees and not forests, and posts which deal with the grand plan get downmodded.

    Linking to copyrighted works? If they can convince the Supreme Court to let this stick, there's the Ice Cannon they want to use againt the entire web. We're beyond copies now. If you can't link to anyone at all, ever, (because it's not you, and all items are copyrighted instantly), then forget Net Neutrality, that is the end of the net.

    • by Swampash (1131503)

      End of the net... in the United States.

      • Well, even classical music takes seven chords to wind down.

        If the entire US went black instantly, the we'd take the rest of the web with us because no one else is yet ready to be the new hub of the web to entirely replace 15 years of US Web legacy overnight. It would be funny, really - instant national solidarity "to obey the law". Asia, then Europe is ahead of USA on the time zones - if we did a total blackout at about 9PM on a Sunday, the freakout would be felt around the world.

        Bonus to someone's question

        • totally incorrect. In fact without the massive amounts of spam generated by the US the net would be better off.

          Go dark, we'll be fine.

          (speaking as someone who works for a backbone provider...)

    • Sooo ... by this argument, anyone linking or embedding youtube videos they did not produce is committing copyright infringement? Better go after ~80%+ of the net then, DHS! Maybe Youtube too, for aiding infringement by providing the means to embed videos not of your own upload.

      Or has there been a precedent that uploading a video to Youtube is 'publishing', therefore exempt from copyright?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 13, 2011 @09:13AM (#35470886)

      I don't think it's that simple. The article says channelsurfing.net was linking to copyright infringing websites. So if I link to this Lady Gaga video [youtube.com], that's OK because it was uploaded by the copyright holder. But if I link to this version of the same song [youtube.com] then apparently I'm breaking the law because it wasn't uploaded by the copyright holder.

      • by GIL_Dude (850471)
        Honestly I guess I am just not sure anymore where this stuff is going. What is the difference (other than the "on the internet") between posting the address of a physical record store and posting a link to say Amazon.com? Both take you to where you can buy the record. Now, how about posting the physical address of a flea market (where you know there are physical "pirated" CDs, not to mention usually some real stolen merchandise) and posting a link to a "pirated" song or video on the net? Both are a pointer
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 13, 2011 @07:43AM (#35470464)

    Copyright linker: "Looking to find a lot of copyrighted material for free? Walk down this street, turn right, then left, and it's right there. In the building marked "library"".

    Undercover Police officer: "You're busted."

    Copyright linker: "Whaaaat?"

    Undercover Police officer: "For aiding and abetting copyright infringers."

  • quote "By contrast, Ticketmaster's suit challenges the backbone of the Internet, namely the ability of one Internet user to simply link his or her page to other pages, without changing the linked pages in any way." http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/metaschool/fisher/linking/linking/link3.html [harvard.edu]
    • Microsoft's Link to Ticketmaster Site Spurs Trademark Lawsuit
      Computer & Online Industry Litigation Reporter, May 6, 1997, Pg. 24087

      A suit from 1997? I have to guess that Ticketmaster didn't win or we all would have heard about it by now.

  • by metalmaster (1005171) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @07:59AM (#35470552)

    Thats a fairly broad stick. Everyone links to copyrighted materials everyday.

    By the looks of Slashdot's (c) blurb i could be linking to materials owned by a dozen people by posting a single link. I link to a few stories throughout the day. Looks like i better stop before I see an ICE badge. "All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective owners. Comments are owned by Poster. The rest © 1997–2011 "

    btw....i might be taking this way off topic, but itsnt it bad form for ICE to use an image of their shield? I think it might have been a slashdot story, but i vaguely remember an article talking about how horribly illegal it was for someone to reproduce the FBI shield and, in fact, the FBI doesnt do it or allow it.

    • Thats a fairly broad stick. Everyone links to copyrighted materials everyday.

      By the looks of Slashdot's (c) blurb i could be linking to materials owned by a dozen people by posting a single link. I link to a few stories throughout the day. Looks like i better stop before I see an ICE badge. "All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective owners. Comments are owned by Poster. The rest © 1997–2011 "

      btw....i might be taking this way off topic, but itsnt it bad form for ICE to use an image of their shield? I think it might have been a slashdot story, but i vaguely remember an article talking about how horribly illegal it was for someone to reproduce the FBI shield and, in fact, the FBI doesnt do it or allow it.

      I just infringed your ass off, or something... :P

      as for TFA. I have no words to express what I feel about it. Two letters might be descriptive enough, though: BS.

    • Robert Van Winkle, we need your permission to link to your Ice Ice Baby video!

      New twist - what if we all put CC licenses on our stuff? Setting aside the moderate complexities of them, then linking wouldn't be illegal would it?

      Bonus: what about Pointilism Linking?
      Officer: "You linked to the copyrighted article."
      Webmaster: "No, that first link goes to a webpage containing a public domain copy of the letter F. The next link goes to a public domain copy of the letter U."

      Then webpages would consist of scripts th

    • by Hatta (162192) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @08:56AM (#35470782) Journal

      Google links to copyrighted material. The Pirate Bay links to copyrighted material. That didn't stop Swedish courts from ruling against Pirate Bay, and still Google operates.

      I mean, you're right and all, but don't expect that to provide any protection for this guy. We are well past the stage where the rule of law means anything in the US. There are different standards for the powerful, and for those who would challenge the powerful.

  • by Cockatrice_hunter (1777856) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @08:04AM (#35470580) Homepage

    Doesn't this make linking to practically any website in the world illegal? If you look at the bottom of most web pages you see the copyright sign. If linking to copyrighted material constitutes infringement does this mean the end of hyperlinking for the internet?

    • by dk90406 (797452)
      You could correctly argue that way. In fact Google News (and /. for that matter) not only link to copyrighted material. They even copy part of the copyrighted material directly. I guess search engines could be excused, because robots.txt could forbid it.
      Luckily there is no strong WSOAA (Web Site Operators Association of America) to lobby the government for ignore common sense AND law.
      Of course some French newspaper sued google for copyright infringement once (links to news stories), so it goes to show stupi
    • by Archtech (159117) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @08:25AM (#35470662)

      This is another instalment of the long-awaited crunch as the Web's refreshing informality and common sense collides with the institutionalized imbecility of the law. Tim Berners-Lee made his views unmistakably clear nearly 20 years ago: see http://www.w3.org/DesignIssues/LinkMyths.html [w3.org]. The basic principle is that, if you don't like the way the Web works, you should just ignore it. No one forces anyone to publish a Web site; but, if they do, it is an implicit invitation to anyone else anywhere to read it - and link to it.

      However, it was only a few years later (probably about 1998) that the vast mass of money-grubbing freeloaders (sorry, the "business community") discovered the huge untapped mother-lode represented by the Web. "Hey!" they cried jubilantly, "Just look at this immense opportunity to make stacks of money that some stupid sucker has just given us - completely free of charge, too". Those were the same guys who soon began complaining that the Web's design was not optimized to help them make as much money as possible with no effort.

      It was around 1998, too, that I stumbled across a law company's Web site somewhere in the USA that laid down strict legal principles for creating Web sites. One of these rules was that every single hyperlink required a separate legal agreement - negotiated by a reputable law firm, naturally.

      The worst of the matter is that the reptiles (sorry, lawyers and politicians) can always change the law in any way they like. It's their game and their ball, and they are apparently absolutely unaccountable to anyone sane or educated.

  • I am glad that the Department of Homeland Security has arrested this terrorist. I feel much safer now when I travel because I know that my vehicle will not be subjected to unauthorized and possibly copyright infringing links. I am glad that my tax dollars have been used to eradicate this type of horrible crime, and that further funds will be spent both to destroy quality of life of this dangerous criminal, yet keep him alive, housed and fed for many years to come. And if you can't detect the sarcasm in thi
  • What percentage of videos linked from McCarthy's site infringed copyright?

    A single act of linking to copyrighted material is not criminal, but if you systematically do it, aren't you "inducing infringement?" That's copyright infringement under current law.

    Now, I don't believe that this should be criminal, but it's hard for me to believe that encouraging and aiding infringement should be perfectly legal. I just believe that McCarthy should be facing a civil suit rather than a criminal one.

    On a side note, I

    • Re:question (Score:4, Informative)

      by Hatta (162192) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @09:03AM (#35470822) Journal

      A single act of linking to copyrighted material is not criminal, but if you systematically do it, aren't you "inducing infringement?" That's copyright infringement under current law.

      Sounds like a a pretty clear violation of the First Amendment.

      It's like he believes Bush is still President or something.

      If you look at the policies of the US government, you'd be hard pressed to tell that Bush isn't still President. Same shit, different guy.

    • Your conspiracy theory fails the basic requirements because analysis of his voting record supports your theory. In a true conspiracy there isn't any evidence in support, it's all coincidence and crazy theories.
  • "This domain has been seized by ICE â" Homeland Security Investigations"

    Those government guys aren't so good at the acronyms.

  • by gearloos (816828) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @08:47AM (#35470752)
    Why not just do the obvious. Make the MPAA and RIAA a legislative branch of the US Government and give any employee full police Power. Let them arrest you at will. It will save the taxpayers all of that expense of calling the real police every time they need to do something like search someones belongings or arrest someone. - And yes, this is sarcasm. Sad but some dimwits in this country probably read that and said "Good Idea" it would lower taxes!
  • by Thad Zurich (1376269) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @08:55AM (#35470780)
    According to http://act.demandprogress.org/sign/dhscomplaint/ [demandprogress.org] the subject is actually accused of EMBEDDING, not linking. That is, he is alleged to have embedded copyrighted video streams (and/or their surrounding pages) inside his own site with surrounding ad content, instead of linking the user to the actual hosting web site. The major mistake by ICE appears to be a failure to actually use the word "embed" in their complaint. I would expect a takedown or lawsuit if I did this, so it's difficult for me to be surprised. Of course, that's no reason not to retrieve the links from the Internet Wayback Machine and (properly) link them from all of our home pages.
  • by Munden (681257) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @08:56AM (#35470784)

    ...is linking to an article that fails to mention how McCarthy has made made over $90,000 in ad revenue from his website.

    http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/03/illegal-tv-streamers-heres-how-the-feds-will-hunt-you-down.ars [arstechnica.com]

    His website was dedicated solely for the purpose of copyright infringement

    Why is copyright infringement an issue of homeland security? It is a federal law, it has to be assigned to someone, and The United States district courts has exclusive subject-matter jurisdiction over copyright cases. IMO, you should learn about copyright law and history - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_copyright_law [wikipedia.org]

    • by Jason69 (661789) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @09:43AM (#35471116)
      Regardless if it's $90,000 or $900,000 or $0 doesn't change a thing. I know by word of mouth there are hookers down on Robinson. If I said "hey, I'll give you $90 if you tell me where the hookers are." doesn't make it any less legal for who I am asking to tell me. The hookers are breaking the law, not the guy who knows where they operate. This case doesn't involve a single reproduction or copy of copyright material. It is simply a link, directions how to get there.
    • So how does ICE have any authority to do this? Next thing they'll have the EPA taking websites for polluting the internet.

    • His website was dedicated solely for the purpose of copyright infringement

      No, to linking. If making $90k from the hard work of running a web page is so damning, why isn't DHS seizing the corporations involved in funding him?

  • Then, he was convicted of tax evasion. It was the only crime that could be proven. Today, they would nail him with a "domestic terrorism" charge. It was en Vogue for a while to use RICO http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racketeer_Influenced_and_Corrupt_Organizations_Act [wikipedia.org] on mafia folks. I'm surprised that prosecutors aren't using anti-terrorist laws against organized crime. If the DHS is snooping around for naughty links, they are probably monitoring mob activities, as well.

    I can hear the District Attorney:

  • by ladoga (931420) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @09:07AM (#35470836)

    the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is claiming that merely linking to copyrighted material is a crime.

    Google is in trouble. Unless the law is different for those who have wealth and power. ;)

  • So where are they on all this recent activity?

  • I wonder if ICE is going to start going after college professors next? I know quite a few professors that put PDF copies of their publications on their websites, because linking to the paper on the publisher's website involves a paywall (unless you're inside the campus's "ivory tower"). Of course, the key difference here is that many of these professors are hosting the files on the sites themselves, and not linking to them. Then again, the other key difference here is that the papers are their own papers, s
    • Many of the big paper publishing sites demand copyright in return for publishing your work, so this could very well be illegal.
  • George Bush is using telepathic mind waves to control Barack Obama!

  • Just imagine that by some sponsorship, sorry, quirk of the legal system linking to copyrighted material would become illegal. How exactly would those marketing droids then propose to support product reviews and forums? Or establish that golden "guerilla marketing" wave that sometimes sells products?

    This is insanity, from whatever angle you look at it. DHS involved in copyright? Copyright holders now deprived of marketing capital? Hello? What exactly have these people been smoking?

  • I don't understand: how is this a threat to "homeland security"? Are the terrorists now threatening us with low-quality US television programming?
  • by AmberBlackCat (829689) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @10:13AM (#35471348)
    Do these people have any idea how many people on Facebook post links to their favorite music videos? Of course they do.
  • I wonder if one can get around being a "linking site" by simply removing the HREF's, leaving just the text of the links. Then one would have to copy/paste instead of just clicking.
    • I wonder if one can get around being a "linking site" by simply removing the HREF's, leaving just the text of the links.

      Actually, yes, they can. When 2600 lost the DeCSS case they converted the links to text. The courts had no issue with this, as the order was to remove the links. Removing hyper-links are easy, it takes a lot more to get a court to remove text.

  • The way things are going downhill in the US, it'll soon be time for UN to declare a No Fly zone over the US to save its citizens from the Govt. Makes me really sad sometimes. And i am not in the US.
  • by bratwiz (635601) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @11:57AM (#35472216)

    I believe the government is applying the wrong standard with respect to Web Links (URL's) and copyrights. They claim that creating a link creates a copyright. However, I strenuously believe that people are confusing the idea of "creating a copyrightable work" with the "mechanism of indexing and accessing" a work. URL's are no more copyrightable than the Dewey Decimal label is on a book in the public library. The fact that links (URL's) are a little more high-tech than the Dewey Decimal label on a book does not change it's fundamental essence.

    The question is, could ICE or any government authority shut down or *confiscate* the Dewey Decimal label on a public library book simply because you referenced that book (or other material) by its *Common Cataloging System INDEX* in some public manner???

    Linking to a web site is no different than saying "Go read this book at the public library, here is it's catalog number". An link *in and of itself* does *NOT* provide or imply *ACCESS* to the item, rather simply a pointer to it's location. Likewise, the idea of "Deep Linking" is no different as it is simply saying "Go read book XYZ on page 37".

    The notion that the link (URL) itself provides "meaning" is simply ludicrous-- of course it does. And in a manner that's long been established as LEGAL and USEFUL and USED by libraries and media referencing systems all over the world-- for well over a hundred years, and probably longer than that. Even the United States own Library of Congress uses indexing schemes to catalog and reference their materials. The fact that a link contains meaningful information is a fundamental property and the very essence of creating a referencing catalog scheme. You can take the Dewey Decimal label from any book, for instance, and discern meaningful information about the nature of the work referenced simply by knowing the algorithm (naming / numbering conventions) incorporated by the scheme. The fact that web links (URL's) have the ability to be more descriptive is a function of the *INDEXING* mechanism, even if it is somehow technically made available to the author to suggest. It is no different than an author attempting to influence the librarian to catalog the material in one section rather than another.

    Moreover, the courts have upheld many times that it is NOT a copyright infringement to publish a REFERENCE work containing even literal quoted passages from the original source as long as it is constructed in the manner of a catalog, all quotations are duly cited, and the work is "transformative". In other words, stands alone apart from the original quoted work in a substantive manner. In the case of linking to a web site, the author (person doing the linking) is not necessarily even quoting anything other than the INDEX of the cataloging method used to house and access the material. However, even if the title, author, etc. of that work were referenced, it is no different than going to the public library and pulling up the "link" to the exact same information stored in their card catalog system. In fact, in many cases, the card catalog even contains a brief synopsis of the source material, quotations, or other direct passages from the original material.

    Finally, even if the person who put the links up online and then proceeded to laugh and make jokes or otherwise reference them, *that very act* begins a transformative process which is IN ITSELF a *copyrightable* element! So creating a page and linking to other sites *IS* in and of itself, a copyrightable act! And the more that is said in reference to those links, provided they do not incorporate substantive direct quotation of the material-- the *better* the argument that a new copyrightable work is being derived. There is tons of relevant precedent in the application of "Fair Use", "Derivative Works", "Satire" or "Parody", etc. to give someone an extremely good legal footing to claim that a substantially new work is being created, if incporporated into a larger framework. However, that said, simply claiming "Fair Use" or a

  • by kheldan (1460303) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @01:09PM (#35472894) Journal
    If this sort of activity were truly illegal, then every single search engine on the internet (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc) would also have to be seized and their employees arrested. It's bullshit and it needs to STOP, NOW.
  • by Fuzzums (250400) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @03:40PM (#35474102) Homepage

    *clicks like button* - OOPS!

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