Oct 222007

The Register reports that UK authorities arrested the owner of the TV-links web site, not because the site contained unauthorized copyrighted material, but because it contained links to unauthorized copyrighted material stored elsewhere on the internet.

This case is worrisome because it heads down the slippery slope of guilt by association. If the UK authorities arrested the web site owner because the site contained infringing content, then that should be the end of the story. If the UK authorities are actually going after this web site primarily on the basis of “facilitating infringement”, we have much to be concerned about.

Taken to the logical extreme, this means you could be held criminally responsible for the content at the other end of every link you place in your blog or web site, even though you have no control over that content nor can you know with any certainty the legitimacy of that content.

Are newspapers held liable for the claims made in the ad copy of their advertisers? No. Is the telephone company liable for words spoken and transmitted over their wires? No. But with this UK arrest, web sites and bloggers may be held liable for the content they link to on other servers.

Let’s hope it gets thrown out of court.