Australian man guilty of copyright infringement… for hyperlinking

In a particularly mind-numbing move Australian courts have decided that merely pointing people in the direction of materials being distributed (legally/illegally) on the internet is a violation of the copyright of said materials.

ArsTechnica: Stephen Cooper ran a website called mp3s4free. Stephen thought that he was well within his legal rights because he was just compiling a list of available mp3 files available for download on the Internet, but was not actually hosting any of the files. Earlier today, the court decided otherwise.

Australian Federal Court Justice Brian Tamberlin ruled that Cooper was guilty of copyright infringment for linking to websites that contained illegal mp3s. This is the first judgement of its kind against hyperlinking in Australia and, I am fairly sure, the rest of the world.

It isn’t just Cooper that is being punished however. Tamberlin also found Comcen (Cooper’s ISP), on of their employees, its parent company, and its director Liam Bal liable.

This brings out another, more important aspect for bloggers, atleast in Australia. If you hyperlink to a copyrighted ARTICLE, are you in violation of it’s copyright?

I suppose there’s mitigating circumstances like whether or not the gentlemen in questions links pointed at the FILE or the SITE. Pointing at the file is essentially making it accessible for download even though you’re not hosting it just like the way P2P networks like bit torrent work. The tracker points at the file and you connect to the URI the tracker gives you.


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