For the half-year to 30 June 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Alberto Bellan, Darren Meale and Nadia Zegze.

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Monday, 22 October 2007

Of goals and own-goals

Visitors to the highly popular 101greatgoals.com website will find the following message posted by Arthur Antunes Coimbra:

"Yesterday saw the sad arrest of a 26-year old British guy who put together the popular, updated television and movie directory, tv.links.co.uk.

The arrest was conducted under the auspices of FACT - the Federation Against Copyright Theft - or better known as those people who put up that “do not steal” advert before every movie. The allegations brought against the accused were for the facilitation of copyright infringement on the internet.

For those of you who are unaware of the website in question, the premise of the site was to simply pool together a series of categorised links of TV, movies and anime shows to provide an orderly one-stop-shop for users’ entertainment fix. Critically however, as is the case for 101GreatGoals.com, the website never uploaded, hosted or created any of the links on the site. tv-links.co.uk just pointed users in the direction of already existing content. (This video shows the site in action).

Alongside tv-links.co.uk stand many other websites of the same genre, who must all be wiping the sweat from their brow worrying that THEY may be the next on the hit-list. I wonder how Sidereel, GreatStuffTV, OVGuide and AllofTV (to name but a few) will be sleeping at night.

So are we sweating? I cannot lie that I just had to reapply a thick layer of deodorant.

Yet I find myself comforted by the company we keep, as many of the major mainstream online newspapers copy exactly what we do, by linking to football videos which are hosted on websites such as Google’s YouTube. For a long time now the Guardian’s online edition have run a YouTube-dedicated weekly round up article, and links to updated YouTube clips in editorials covering the weekend’s action in the world of football (recent examples here and here).

Yet the Guardian is not alone in this practice. YouTube links are also found in articles written on The Times’ online website. Right now, if you go to the football page at The Times you can see many clips to YouTube material adopted as video evidence supporting the words on the screen.

No doubt, the arrest of tv-links.co.uk makes me concerned. Our objective at 101GreatGoals.com is to make available the football action for those who truly own the game, yet are denied access to easily connect with their passion - the fans. I do not want to get arrested. Yet, the truth remains that if there were no clips on YouTube and the other sites alike, then unfortunately the online football community would be left starving. As you, the reader, know only too well judging by the emails we receive, often the videos that we link to get taken down from the host website.

Whilst the steady stream of football clips is still largely available, the scare tactics involved in this latest online episode will likely scare some into submission from the calls of the fat cats. The authorities know how to turn off the tap, yet they avoid the big players and bully the little guys. For my part, I will now endeavor to sleep with one-eye open at night".
The IPKat is not in a position to comment on the factual or legal basis of the events involving tv.links.co.uk or any of the other sites mentioned in this piece. He only wants to say that this episode reflects in microcosm the conflicting interests of content providers, information providers and the public at large. FACT is not a fat cat, nor are most creators and owners of copyright material. Yet the publicity arising from manner in which they protect their interests is sometimes at odds with the very sensible aim of seeking to educate the public better as to the significance of copyright and the importance of being able to enforce it - and this public comprises in large part a community of internet users who are gaining free access to content that they cannot or will not pay for. The Kat invites readers' comments (please post them below) on this issue.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

What impact does Art. 3(1) of the harmonisation of copyright and related rights in the information society directive (2001/29/EC) have on this?

Anonymous said...

'fraid I don't have a strong opinion on the question at issue, but I do have another question - how far removed from a crime do you have to be before you are no longer guilty yourself?

Hosting copyright infringing content is a crime. Here we have someone being arrested for putting up a sign saying copyright infringing material that way. What about someone who doesn't point to the content, but points to the sign that points to the content. Are they liable? And so on ad inifinitum

Is there or even should there be some limit on when you stop sharing liability with the original criminal?

Anonymous said...

Hi
I'm an investor in testcard.tv - we've put our site 'Under Maintenance' until there if further clarification on the law.
In the meantime it's clear the industry needs an informed debate.
We're asking for views - should online tv aggregators be illegal?
Your views welcome at the Testcard TV Blog - http://blog.testcard.tv/
Thanks
Simon

Philip Eagle said...

Debate on the Register story on this has pointed out that many well-known media organisations have links on their web sites that point to YouTube et al clips, many of which are obviously commercially-published material that may or may not (but probably may not) have been legally cleared. Including a Guardian story that explicitly recommended the controversial TV Links site to its nostalgic readers. I wonder if we'll see any action against any of the people who can afford to aggressively defend themselves...

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