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NOW how am I going to watch Growing Pains?
November 7, 2007 9:24 PM   Subscribe

TV-Links website shut down, site creator arrested. Says David Rock, who awaits charges, "It was just a hobby."

Despite not actually hosting the content, Rock has been accused of "facilitation of infringement."
posted by SassHat (32 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
He was released a while ago, though.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:29 PM on November 7, 2007


I am not overly familiar with the international laws at the heart of this case, but the U.S. version of this is essentially what's referred to as "contributory infringement." It's rather hotly contested (see Google v. Perfect 10), but the U.S. courts haven't really given a definitive ruling on this, as far as I can tell.

Naturally, it raises the question of the legality of linking to infringing content and one can't help but wonder if someone posting an obviously infringing link to YouTube or what have you constitutes the same offense. That being said, it's rather obvious from a layman's point of view that there's a world of difference between linking to said clip and running an entire site strictly devoted to circumventing copyright law, which is what this gentleman was clearly doing.

The sticker is that the laws (at least in the U.S.) have yet to address this difference.
posted by dhammond at 9:35 PM on November 7, 2007


So if we link to something with ads, we get can paid from facilitation of sales?
posted by Brian B. at 10:13 PM on November 7, 2007 [4 favorites]


I'll say it.

so where do we go now?
posted by Afreemind2007 at 10:40 PM on November 7, 2007


A bit late with this.
Been there and discussed elsewhere at length.
posted by Webbster at 11:10 PM on November 7, 2007


tv-links!

Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:54 PM on November 7, 2007 [2 favorites]


"Hey, I know where you can get a counterfeit watch. I don't have it, I'm not going to sell it to you or take your money, and I'm not going to profit off of the sale -- I just happen to know a guy who has one, and I know you, a person who wants one. Just doing you both a favor."

Is that illegal, and if so, what's it called?
posted by davejay at 11:56 PM on November 7, 2007 [2 favorites]


How about trying to come up with a workable solution instead of arresting "misguided" people and suing eight year olds?
posted by maxwelton at 12:24 AM on November 8, 2007


Meanwhile, I've regained at least 50% of my available bandwidth and I've actually seen most of my housemates in the last two weeks.

For real.
posted by loquacious at 12:25 AM on November 8, 2007


Is that illegal, and if so, what's it called?

I wish somebody would create a law against the use of strained analogies in the discussion of copyright infringement.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:59 AM on November 8, 2007 [3 favorites]


From MissLynnster's ComputerActive link — Kim Walker of law firm Pinsent Masons said: "We don't have an offence in the UK for facilitation of copyright infringement. "

In other words, strained analogies is the best we're going to get.

I'm going to miss TV-Links. I was halfway through rewatching Kenneth Clark's Civilisation, and my son was enjoying Tom Baker as Dr Who.
posted by MinPin at 2:39 AM on November 8, 2007


I liked the idea of TV-Links more than the actuality. It crashed my (decent spec) computer, crashed friends computers and had many dead links.

Having said that, the layout was great and it was a million times better than any commercial attempt I've seen at the same thing. I think this style of site is the future- no matter what the copyright holders think- and it will be free. They could monetize it by showing ads before the programme or whatever but I can't see people paying a subscription. Otherwise, just as is anticipated with Oink, something will pop up to replace it.

I think that what some of the naysayers need to remember is that people go to these sites for the wide variety of stuff that the commercial sites don't bother with for whatever reason and not just to 'steal' stuff.
posted by ClanvidHorse at 2:53 AM on November 8, 2007


For those who haven't heard of it yet, OVGuide has an extensive round-up of TV Links-like sites. Though none are quite as good.

Is OK to link to a site that links to sites that link to sites that host copyrighted material?
posted by Espy Gillespie at 5:15 AM on November 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


We don't have an offence in the UK for facilitation of copyright infringement.

No, but aiding and abetting an indictable offence can be tried and punished just as someone who principally commited the offence. Halsbury's Laws of England says, "...it is enough if a person supplies materials in order that a crime of the particular kind may be committed but without knowing the details of the crime, or supplies information to enable the crime to be carried out."
posted by grouse at 5:25 AM on November 8, 2007


All that said, from what I've read he hasn't yet been charged with aiding and abetting, but with a dubious use of the law on trademarks.
posted by grouse at 5:27 AM on November 8, 2007


"Hey, I know where you can get a counterfeit watch. I don't have it, I'm not going to sell it to you or take your money, and I'm not going to profit off of the sale -- I just happen to know a guy who has one, and I know you, a person who wants one. Just doing you both a favor."

Could this be accomplice liablity? Conspiracy? If it's done frequently, possibly RICO?
posted by herc at 6:27 AM on November 8, 2007


If linking is illegal, than arrest the internet!!!

They would, too, except:
" it is difficult to pursue sites not under English jurisdiction"

And if you like strained metaphors, here's a doozy:
[Eddy Leviten of the Federation Against Copyright Theft] likened the activity of TV Links to someone who advertises a car that is not theirs.

Copyright Theft? How do you steal a copyright? Woo Hoo! You dont have the right to copy anymore, only i do!!
posted by TechnoLustLuddite at 6:38 AM on November 8, 2007


If the use of strained analogies in the discussion of copyright infringement is outlawed, only outlaws will use strained analogies in the discussion of copyright infringement!
posted by goatdog at 7:07 AM on November 8, 2007 [3 favorites]


Are crackdowns the new cease-and-desist letter?

Essentially, the same thing happened with Oink... Arrest the guy, shut down the servers, tell the media (or have them ride along), release the guy without charges (not necessarily in that order).

Achieves the goal of shutting the thing down and scaring the masses, without having to press a legal argument that won't necessarily hold up. If the guy wants to fight back in court... well, his case is even more dubious.
posted by pokermonk at 7:46 AM on November 8, 2007


*cough* VideoLemon *cough*
posted by zap rowsdower at 7:55 AM on November 8, 2007 [5 favorites]


There is another site that has UK shows only. It's members-only and they take down anything that is available for purchase online or DVD in order to avoid this sort of thing. I'm not going to link them, though. Apparently that can cause trouble.
posted by fructose at 8:05 AM on November 8, 2007


"There is another site that has UK shows only.

UKNova ? They list torrents. TV Links linked to uploaded shows. Very different.
posted by Webbster at 8:19 AM on November 8, 2007


I'm not going to say how sad it makes me to have tv-links gone, because that could be understood as my admittance that I used the site (which may or may not be true), but suffice it to say that watching Heroes on YouTube, nine minutes and 58 seconds at at time, at a shitty quality, may or may not hypothetically suck a lot.
posted by arcticwoman at 8:22 AM on November 8, 2007


Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT)

I'm starting my own: Federation Indicating that Criminalizing Torrent-linking Is Offensive Nonsense (FICTION)
posted by quin at 10:21 AM on November 8, 2007


so where do we go now?
Sidereel, Joox, TVnzb, Blueflask.

(the first two are more like TV-Links, the second two are both indexers of NZB files, which allow you to download shows from Usenet. The last requires an invite -- ping me via mefimail)

But, I think we're about to see a pretty major tide-shift, depending on the outcome of the writers' strike. Because the writers are fighting to get residual payments on internet-delivered shows, there's about to be a very serious economic incentive to be able to closely track/count views online. A copy of 30 Rock on YouTube doesn't cost anyone working for NBC much of anything right now (especially since it's also available via nbc.com -- where they're paying the bandwidth and selling ads), but if every viewing contractually obligates NBC to cut checks to writers, then unauthorized downloads really will make an impact on someone's bottom line -- instead of the specious argument that downloaders represent a missed sale, they will directly decrease from residuals. (And when you look at the number of seeds of a popular TV Torrent (like a just released episode of The Simpsons or Heroes), you realize that it might actually be a meaningful number, even at a couple of cents per viewer).

The jump from civil copyright infringement to criminal interference with interstate commerce is not a trivial one.
posted by toxic at 10:57 AM on November 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


toxic: actors and producers already get residual payments on these shows according to this comment.
posted by grouse at 12:06 PM on November 8, 2007


zap rowsdower: Clicking on a link on that VideoLemon thing brought up an intermediate page offering to install a toolbar on my computer.

That must be some kind of superfail.
posted by JHarris at 12:46 PM on November 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


actors and producers already get residual payments on these shows

Yes, but they're calculated very differently. Royalties for actors are a percentage of gross revenue for the series, so yes, they'll get a percentage of all revenue earned by the series, including ad revenue and/or iTunes kickbacks.

It is my understanding that writers get paid X dollars for the script, Y for the first airing, Z for each additional airing in syndication/rerun/international use, and a flat fee for Home Video/DVD rights. The X,Y, and Z are calculated as a percentage of the license fee that is paid to air the show, not a percentage of all gross revenue.

Yes, that DVD flat fee is a bone of contention, but should I remind you that the WGA agreed to that fee during a time when it was unclear whether DVD/Video sales of already aired episodes was a viable business model. As things have played out, it turns out that DVD sales are huge, and the writers probably did get screwed. But when it was about putting Family Ties on a pair of VHS tapes that then cost $45 to the consumer, sometimes that flat fee looked pretty appealing.

But what I'm really getting at here is that none of the X,Y, or Z above (or even the % of gross revenue that the actors' checks are based on) really takes into account individual viewers (partially because it hasn't been feasible to do so). It's all about revenue sharing -- except for the Home Media licensing fee, which doesn't account for audience at all.

So... the argument goes, if you download Heroes from Usenet, instead of watching it from your Tivo, or on the Air, then you might represent a missed opportunity, in that perhaps you would've been a DVD (or iTunes) buyer, or streamed it with paid adds on Hulu.com. But, trying to prove a one-to-one relationship between an unauthorized download and a legitimately smaller check to anyone is laughable under the current system. There are too many "ifs" and too much data to suggest that downloaders tend to watch more TV on the air, and music downloaders buy more CDs, for that argument to hold any merit.

But, if the equation is N cents for every download, then every time a server is seized, and the downloads counted, the Guild will stand up and say that mininova takes tens of thousands of dollars out of writers' pockets every day -- and have a halfway believable argument. They'll have a better argument for seizing servers, too.

And that's going to make it a little more uncomfortable to run a site that isn't itself making infringing content available, but might be helping someone find it.

Plus, finding a sympathetic jury in LA to protect an actors % of gross is a lot harder than finding one to protect payments from studio to writer. There are many more writers and other support staff in the county than producers/actors, and they (and people like them) are a lot more likely to show up for jury duty.

With all of that said, (and though this part probably belongs in the other thread). I do think the writers should be getting something from online sales, but I think it should be in the form of a percentage of revenue -- and yes, fix the DVD model.

Because right now, nobody is really making money on downloadable video, except perhaps for google or the porn sites. The royalty rates are destroying Internet Radio, because they're calculated on listeners and songs played, not revenue earned -- so nobody gets the chance to get anything off the ground. It would be a damn shame for the same thing to happen to IPTV... we're just getting started, and if all we get is NBC.com and Hulu, well, that would be such a wasted opportunity.
posted by toxic at 5:02 PM on November 8, 2007


(probably too late, but...)

I wish somebody would create a law against the use of strained analogies in the discussion of copyright infringement.

It's not really strained, is it? A counterfeit watch is copyright infringement, so nothing strained there, and a guy who speaks to two individuals to hook 'em up to exchange said copyright-infringing goods is not really different from a web site (run by a guy) to do the same thing, except for scale.

So it may surprise you to learn that I was simply trying to get an answer to my question, which regards copyright infringement at the one-on-one level versus the one-to-many level typically focused on in these lawsuits.

Do you have an answer, by the way, or just felt like snarking?
posted by davejay at 8:00 PM on November 11, 2007


Could this be accomplice liablity? Conspiracy? If it's done frequently, possibly RICO?

Thanks, Herc, that narrows it down for me to do more research on my question (didn't want to fly in blind.)
posted by davejay at 8:02 PM on November 11, 2007


A counterfeit watch is copyright infringement

Trademark infringement, probably, because unless the watch face design is really unique it probably wouldn't be creative enough for copyright protection.

One of the problems with using accomplice/accessory/aiding-and-abetting criminal laws to snag people running directories is you would have to prove the primary infringement that they were accessory to. This might be hard if the files are on a safe harbor web site—you'd have to go after the user of the web site that uploaded the files and they might be very hard to find.

So no, I don't think your example would be illegal unless a counterfeit watch were actually sold in relation to it, and the prosecutors would have to prove this beyond a reasonable doubt.
posted by grouse at 12:09 AM on November 12, 2007


As JHarris said above, avoid VideoLemon if you don't appreciate a drive by install of Zango malware
posted by acro at 8:49 PM on November 17, 2007


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