Saturday, October 20, 2007

TV Links has been shut down.

What a sad day. It certainly was possible to find new movies on the aforementioned website -- but mostly I used it to watch old MASH reruns and a host of documentaries and TV shows I had never heard of.

The implications are rather stark: Help people pirate content, and you will be shut down.

Worse, though, is that someone in the UK is now in the slammer for more or less helping aggregate pirate links -- for being a middle-man in the game of piracy.

I found TVlinks from about a year ago, and was simply amazed at the list of shows and documentaries and everything in-between. I thought it was just my geekyness that brought me there, until my next-door neighbor had a network outage -- and the first site his son of 20+ years pulled up to "test" connectivity was none other than TVlinks.

We talked a bit about the content on there and I realized that it had become more than a TV Guide -- it had hit a hallowed space -- almost a "google" for everything video.

At the heart of all of this is the question of illegal activity -- was he really breaking the law? (TVlinks only pointed at people that were breaking copyright). Can't you go to just about any search engine and find copyrighted content in a matter of seconds?

I guess the real question is whether or not Google, Yahoo and MSN are next. If you can cart away a guy who ran something like this in his living room what can you do to people who actually have pockets of cash?

Google, MSN and Yahoo should do more than watch the outcome of this one -- they should pool their resources and pay this guy's legal fees. If he was pointing to copyrighted content wouldn't that make it extremely easy for the copyright holders to always find people breaking the law? Isn't that a useful function of the site? Is that illegal, in other words?

These are hard questions, but I think you can all read what I'm saying -- they have arrested the wrong thief in this equation. All of the search engine and other types of aggregators of content should sit up and pay serious attention. Google cannot possibly know (without serious cost) the true holders of the copyright to the endpoint content they aggregate (arguably, this is only slightly different than what TVlinks was doing). Suing or arresting people that run search engines for pointing to copyrighted content is not the answer, in my not-so-humble opinion.

No comments: