Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Copyright and links

One of the rather annoying and weird bits of copyright legislation is that it does not just protect against copying but also making available. The second part is the tricky one, and a CJEU ruling recently muddied the waters only to be made worse by a case in Germany!

More on this from arstechnica.

The upshot is that if a commercial web site simply links to a web site/page that contains infringing material then the linking site becomes infringing as it is making available.

What is worse is that the link itself (according the Germans) does not have to be for some profitable purpose, simply a link on an otherwise commercial site. Also, the web site operator that created the link does not even have to know the linked-to site is infringing. Indeed, they could have done all due diligence when making the link and the content of the target site has since changed, or worse, not changed but the infringement status of what is there has (a time limited licence on use of an image, maybe). The German case was a link to something covered by a creative commons licence but it turns out the linked to site did not meet all of the requirements making it an infringing site. How the hell does someone making a link check that shit, and how can web sites continue to exist if every external link on every web page needs a small team of lawyers to check it, and recheck regularly?

This is, of course, crazy, and make no sense to anyone looking at it in any technical way. It makes little sense to those looking at it from a legal viewpoint either, as far as I know.

One of the problems is that the linking site being infringing means that anyone linking to the linking site is also infringing, and so on until the whole world wide web is infringing! If it was not like that, then you do not tackle the original problem - people actually linking to where one can download dodgy copies of stuff can simply link instead to a site that then links to where you can download dodgy copies of stuff, ideally with that intermediate site being outside of EU (and this crazy legislation).

Of course, you could make a non profit site that links on to other sites, like a URL shorter, but could be simpler and just strip its domain off end of link so very noddy. Then make all external links on your site go to that non profit site that links on to the target page. That way all your links are now laundered and not infringing?

I am not sure how either of these play points out legally.

1 comment:

  1. If you placed a link on your website to google, would you also be breaking the rules ? I'm sure that there is some infringing material available somewhere on google.

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