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Canadian Court of Appeals Decides Website Linking Isn't Libelous

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the reelect-that-man dept.

Censorship 75

inject_hotmail.com writes "I found this promising news over on Michael Geist's website: In an amazing display of wisdom and understanding, British Columbia (Canada) court of appeals (in a split decision) decided that it is not libelous to link to defamatory content. The judge stated that 'there is, in my view, no substantial difference between providing a web address and a mere hyperlink. Whether the hyperlink is a web address, as is often the case, or a more specific reference, both require a decision on the part of the reader to access another website, and both require the reader to take a distinct action, in the one case typing in a web address and in the other case clicking on the hyperlink. In other words, there is a barrier between the accessed article and the hyperlinked site that must be bridged, not by the publisher, but by the reader. The essence of following a hyperlink is to leave the website one was at to enter a different and independent website.' The case was brought about by B.C. businessman Wayne Crookes, who claimed that p2pnet had damaged his character by linking to websites with which he did not agree. Presumedly, the website with the actual content in question is outside of the purview of the Canadian courts; however, p2pnet is not."

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Good (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29457145)

Looks like logical, rational thought and reasoning still exist.

Re:Good (3, Funny)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 5 years ago | (#29457227)

Do you have a link to that?

Re:Good (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29458121)

There ya go. [aynrand.org]

Re:Good (4, Insightful)

Dishevel (1105119) | more than 5 years ago | (#29458167)

Agreed. What worries me though is that one of the three judges thought otherwise.

Better version of article (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29461201)

Better version of article: http://news.on.nimp.org/story/28356 [nimp.org] (Read article summary before visiting TFA, you have been warned)

Re:Good (1)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 5 years ago | (#29458363)

Horray for common sense! Three cheers for Canada!

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29460843)

I could see where in some cases it could still be found to be libel, depending on how the link was crafted.

My supporting evidence.... Anonymous Coward worships Satan [google.com]

Re:Good (1)

master5o1 (1068594) | more than 5 years ago | (#29461195)

You mean like a rick roll link... It appears to go to this website, but instead goes to youtube :|

Re:Good (1)

Dragonslicer (991472) | more than 5 years ago | (#29461329)

I could see where in some cases it could still be found to be libel, depending on how the link was crafted.

My supporting evidence.... Anonymous Coward worships Satan [google.com]

"Anonymous Coward worships Satan [google.com] " is no more or less libelous than "Anonymous Coward worships Satan." No reasonable person would ever take "A link is not in of itself libel" to mean "I can shield myself from a lawsuit just by putting the libelous text inside <a> tags." It's an even more absurd idea than trying to shield yourself by using the phrase "in my opinion" before stating an untrue fact.

Re:Good (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 5 years ago | (#29461807)

What about linking to anonymous.coward.worships.satan.com?

Re:Good (1)

Zey (592528) | more than 5 years ago | (#29464171)

No reasonable person would ever take "A link is not in of itself libel" to mean "I can shield myself from a lawsuit just by putting the libelous text inside tags."

I dunno. I think there are times where the text itself may not be libellous, but, the link makes it so:

"Always excellent to see someone with such an open [goatse.cx] mind" :)

The legal system needs to recognise that the Internet's just another communication medium and the real test is whether someone's been defamed as a result of someone else typing things.

Can we import these judges? (5, Insightful)

tetsukaze (1635797) | more than 5 years ago | (#29457173)

It would be good for international trade relations and help us here in the states with our problem with technologically inept judges.

Re:Can we import these judges? (1)

BlueKitties (1541613) | more than 5 years ago | (#29457305)

If you like them 'ol ducks type'n, you can...
import CanadianJudges

If you prefer static type'n...
#include CanadianOpinions

Re:Can we import these judges? (1)

Murazor (1240344) | more than 5 years ago | (#29457725)

And you can help us with our technologically inept CRTC (FCC equivalent).

Link to content != copyright violation? (5, Interesting)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 5 years ago | (#29458101)

So if linking to libellous content does not constitute a libel, then perhaps linking to material which infringes copyright would not constitute an infringement of copyright...
The analogous case would be for the link in question to be directly to downloadable material, hosted elsewhere. A torrent tracker would probably fall into this category. If the link were to a torrent tracker which is hosted elsewhere, then it would be even less likely to be judged an infringement, based on this precedent.

Re:Link to content != copyright violation? (1, Interesting)

Shagg (99693) | more than 5 years ago | (#29458235)

...then perhaps linking to material which infringes copyright would not constitute an infringement of copyright...

As far as I know, it doesn't. But I guess that depends on what country you're in.

Re:Link to content != copyright violation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29458645)

Damn it, where's my (-1 Wrong) mod?

I'll settle for overrated...

Re:Link to content != copyright violation? (1)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 5 years ago | (#29463093)

then perhaps linking to material which infringes copyright would not constitute an infringement of copyright...

As far as I know, it doesn't. But I guess that depends on what country you're in.

Indeed, it is country-dependent. But this ruling at least makes the position somewhat clearer in Canada. It's much murkier in some other countries, where people have even been sentenced to jail and given large fines, merely for hosting trackers (TPB in Sweden).

Re:Link to content != copyright violation? (1)

mea37 (1201159) | more than 5 years ago | (#29458505)

I don't know why one would imply the other. The underlying laws (copyright law vs. defamation laws) are completely different in terms of rationale and of what constitutes an offense.

Re:Link to content != copyright violation? (2, Informative)

Starlon (1492461) | more than 5 years ago | (#29458927)

Well, I think the argument is not that the laws are similar particularly, but rather a "barrier between the accessed article and the hyperlinked site... must be bridged, not by the publisher, but by the reader." If the website only hosts a hyperlink pointing to copyrighted material, than it should by no means constitute copyright infringement. Or so this decision implies by stating that "Mr. Newton's use of a hyperlink to the openpolitics and usgovernetics sites where the impugned articles are found did not amount to publication by him of the hyperlinked articles." It only implies that, however, if "publication" of an article and "make available" copyrighted material can be deemed similar. I think we can both agree that the mechanism of a URL remains similar in both scenarios.

Re:Link to content != copyright violation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29460585)

Perhaps it depends on the nature of the original site. If the nature is to state things, and make it up via hyperlinks, then I'd assume it isn't libelous as the original website didn't provide the incorrect content to begin with.

However, a site whose nature is to link to a whole bunch of pirated material, well, is providing the service of linking to pirated material. However, if it is unknown whether the material is pirated, *cough* YouTube, well, that may be a different situation.

Please correct me if I'm wrong. I may be wrong.

Re:Link to content != copyright violation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29462091)

i think it should all depend on link hierarchy, the original page of libelous material or the actual, usuable infringing content. linking to libelousmaterial.net or piratedstuff.com should both be legal. libelousmaterial.net should be in the wrong if it is libelous. if piratedstuff.com is posting direct links to infringing material, then it should be in the wrong. however, if it is just posting links to elsewhere, it should not. in the latter, it is just being a directory. if being a directory is illegal, then where do search engines fall? this also opens up the whole making available thing. that shouldn't matter either. if i had a server and put up all the music i own for myself to access remotely and i tell others, it shouldn't be my fault they went and took it. if i said where i live and listed all my belongings, should i also be charged with burglary if it was stolen?

Re:Link to content != copyright violation? (1)

mea37 (1201159) | more than 5 years ago | (#29466381)

You can't draw legal conclusions without considering the natures of the laws. The hyperlink as a 'barrier that has to be bridged' might be sensible when the offense is lying about someone but might not be sensible when teh offense is distributing material without the right to do so.

Not sure about Canada, but in the US there are offenses of indirect infringement (or perhaps it's called secondary infringement, can't recall off hand); essentially it can be illegal to facilitate someone else infringing copyright. There is no such thing as indirect defamation.

So I'll stand by my previous comment - the laws are different enough that, while it might be possible to build a case for "linking is not copyright infringement", the fact that linking is not defamation has no place in the building of that case.

Re:Link to content != copyright violation? (1)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 5 years ago | (#29462377)

In the US, it doesn't, the Supreme Court made that clear. Yes, trackers are legal in the United States. In Canada, it's their laws or their judges that are being inconsistent in the case of trackers.

Y' know (1)

djupedal (584558) | more than 5 years ago | (#29457241)

One short site editing session and I'm pretty sure I could whip up a libelous link that would send my X running for her lawyers...

Re:Y' know (1)

jbezorg (1263978) | more than 5 years ago | (#29457465)

Why do I get the feeling that I'll soon be reading "An individual, who linked to a former spouse's myspace page from their own website, is being sued ... "

How about this (5, Funny)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 5 years ago | (#29457413)

Re:How about this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29457431)

That's not a link TO defamatory content, that's defamatory content in the form of a link.

Re:How about this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29457491)

where you see defamatory content I see his personal insight - of course his boss may deem otherwise... wait, are you his boss?

Re:How about this (2, Interesting)

evanbd (210358) | more than 5 years ago | (#29457987)

That's not a link TO defamatory content, that's defamatory content in the form of a link.

Hmm. So it is. However, I can do better; this is both: http://glennbeckrapedandmurderedayounggirlin1990.com/ [glennbeckr...in1990.com]

Re:How about this (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 5 years ago | (#29457497)

Well, it's not libelous for 2 reasons:
1. It's not a working link.
2. It's not libelous if it's true (in many jurisdictions).
(IANAL, this is silly stuff not legal advice, blah blah blah)

Of course, it's still grounds for getting fired. Aren't you familiar with the "Post Anonymously" option?

Re:How about this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29458011)

Yeah, but Anonymous Coward doesn't often get +5 Funny.

Re:How about this (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#29458055)

You have a boss that reads /.? Can we swap bosses?

Re:How about this (1)

Citizen of Earth (569446) | more than 5 years ago | (#29459325)

Also, I would imagine that for something to be libelous, it needs to be specific. "http://my.boss.is/a/stupid/fucking/bitch/i/hope/she/eats/shit/and/dies" is equivalent in content to "I dislike my boss". Good for you. This is a matter of opinion. You need to say something that could fool a reasonable person.

Re:How about this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29460291)

Because here on Slashdot, what's important isn't so much the point you raise as the way you erred slightly in describing the hypothetical situation used for raising it.

Re:Or this? (1)

nonsequitor (893813) | more than 5 years ago | (#29457789)

http://gb1990.com/ [gb1990.com]

No one is accusing him of doing it, but isn't it curious he hasn't provided any evidence to the contrary?

Re:Or this? (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 5 years ago | (#29459173)

Wow, the site itself claims it is nothing more than a rumor. Which means that, so far, there is zero evidence to back it up. Why should he bother? Seriously, this is tabloid material at best.

The only people who would believe such a ridiculous claim with zero evidence of any kind are either extremely naive (and he couldn't hope to pursuade them) or already have it in for him, in which case they'll just use his response to fan the controversy. Instead of "Why hasn't he responded?" it will become "Why is he covering up suchandsuch?".

A serious allegation is not evidence by itself, and an unsubstantiated rumor is worth far less than a serious allegation.

The point of the whole exercise, though, is that we should be taking what I just said and applying it to what Beck himself says, because he uses a lot of these linguistic techniques to cajole people all the time. Frankly, I agree with him half the time, but that doesn't mean I can't recognize that some of his most popular techniques are a bit underhanded. But that's the art of argument, and Beck is definitely good at it.

Re:Or this? (1)

schon (31600) | more than 5 years ago | (#29459507)

the site itself claims it is nothing more than a rumor. Which means that, so far, there is zero evidence to back it up. Why should he bother?

Because if he's innocent, he has no reason to deny the accusations.

The simple fact that he refuses to deny that he raped and murdered a girl in 1990 casts considerable doubt on his character, and Fox News should immediately suspend him until he admits that he didn't rape and murder that girl in 1990.

The point of the whole exercise, though, is that we should be taking what I just said and applying it to what Beck himself says, because he uses a lot of these linguistic techniques to cajole people all the time.

Wow - what a great idea! I wish someone else had thought of that! With such an incisive intellect, you should apply at Fox News - hear they might be looking for someone to replace Glenn Beck because he refuses to deny the allegations that he raped and murdered a girl in 1990.

Frankly, I agree with him half the time

Hmm.. what is it you called people who believe this sort of thing? Oh yeah...

extremely naive

Re:Or this? (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 5 years ago | (#29466139)

Um, it's called "innocent until proven guilty", not "guilty until you claim innocence".

Re:Or this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29467913)

Have you stopped beating your wife yet?

Re:Or this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29461425)

Frankly, I agree with him half the time...

Which would explain why you're too dumb to find that the whole thing is a ripoff of an old Gilbert Gottfried joke on Bob Saget...Sheeesh!

Re:How about this (1)

symes (835608) | more than 5 years ago | (#29457985)

Do you mean is it ok if she eats shit and dies? If she's stupid enough to eat shit then there's a small chance she could choke on a peanut... http://my.boss.was/a/stupid/fucking/bitch/she/ate/shit/and/died.com [boss.was] in which case, as far as I know, you can't really libel the dead now can you?

Re:How about this (1)

asifyoucare (302582) | more than 5 years ago | (#29460665)

Not it is not OK.

The link itself has a defamatory imputation, regardless of whether the reader clicks it or not. It is OK to say hope she eats shit and dies - that is clearly an opinion rather than a statement of fact, but there is a clearly defamatory imputation that your boss is a fucking bitch.

And my post will take the daily award for taking something way too seriously.

Re:How about this (1)

consonant (896763) | more than 5 years ago | (#29463623)

I guess a lot of people around here agree with you - that site seems to be Slashdotted! ;)

Libelous ? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29457429)

As English is not my native language, can you believe that I actually had to look that word up in the dictionary ? Voting to use more common-folk words in the next story now!

Re:Libelous ? (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#29458653)

Sorry, the word "libel" has a specific legal meaning, and using other words just wouldn't work.

It's good you had to look up the word -- otherwise you'd probably misunderstand the article.

Sorry if it's inconvenient, but sometimes clarity is more important that ease-of-use for people whose first language is not English.

So in Canada... (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#29457459)

Putting <a href="http://goat.se"<[insert politician's name here]</a> is ok?

Re:So in Canada... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29457571)

I would imagine that the link itself would be defamatory, rather than being a link to defamatory content as discussed in the summary.

Re:So in Canada... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29457777)

With libel / defamation, don't you have to prove that what was said is not true (at least in Canada and the US)?

If so, then that court case could be really interesting....

Re:So in Canada... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29457781)

I would imagine that the link itself would be defamatory, rather than being a link to defamatory content as discussed in the summary.

Wow, simply typing a politicians name is defamatory??

It's not like he said "[insert politician's name here] sucks" or any other modifier words...

Re:So in Canada... (1)

PhxBlue (562201) | more than 5 years ago | (#29458267)

Only if you do it right [goatse.cx] . :)

Re:So in Canada... (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465715)

That was an illustration of the HTML code. Coding <a href="http://goat.se">Yo Momma</a> results in Yo Momma [goat.se] .

Oop, now I see my mistake. If I'd been trying to make an actual link I'd seen it in the preview. My bad.

Slasdhot Coolness Index For The Week Is (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29457509)

3 on a scale from 1 ( Extremely Uncool ) to 10 ( Extremely Cool ).

This is relatively good compared to the Brain-Deadness Scale for the Criminals-In-U.S.A.-Congress.

Yours In Akademgorodok,
K. Trout

Flamebait (1)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 5 years ago | (#29457527)

-2, does not demonize Harper government enough.

Re:Flamebait (2, Informative)

Imagix (695350) | more than 5 years ago | (#29459097)

Um... Why is there even mention of the Harper government (Federal) when this was the BC Court of Appeal (Provincial)? You'd want to poke at the Campbell government.

I AM (0, Offtopic)

holophrastic (221104) | more than 5 years ago | (#29457665)

'nough said?

Sad state of affairs :( (3, Insightful)

yamfry (1533879) | more than 5 years ago | (#29457673)

At first I thought it was great that we had a rational and logically intact court decision. Then I thought about how said it was that it happens infrequently enough that it is a news item when it does happen. Now I am depressed and need some Baskin Robbins.

Is this really libel? (4, Funny)

No Lucifer (1620685) | more than 5 years ago | (#29457677)

The case was brought about by B.C. businessman Wayne Crookes

The website accused him of being a Crooke.

Re:Is this really libel? (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#29458593)

His whole family is just a bunch of Crookes anyway! Wait... is that libelous? How about "He has always been obsessed with sects, and even worked as a proselyte outside of a church!"

How far would this have carried? (4, Interesting)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 5 years ago | (#29457995)

Imagine for a second if the verdict had gone the other way. I wonder how far it would have carried. If I linked to the P2Pnet article that linked to the (allegedly) libelous content, would I be guilty of libel? After all, if linking to libelous content is libel, then surely linking to an article with "libel links" is libel too, right? What if you link to an article that links to an article that links to P2Pnet's "libel links" article?

If that was libel too, then, say goodbye to the entire web. We're all guilty of libel. If secondary links aren't libel, do TinyURLs save you? After all, you're not actually linking to the libelous content. You're linking to TinyURL.com who is "guilty" of libel by linking to the content.

On one hand we would have had an overreaching verdict that could have made everyone guilty of libel and on the other we would have had a verdict easily bypassed by the simplest of externally hosted redirection scripts. All in all, it's great that the judges ruled the way they did. (Though it worries me that it was a "split decision.")

Re:How far would this have carried? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29458725)

If secondary links aren't libel, do TinyURLs save you? After all, you're not actually linking to the libelous content. You're linking to TinyURL.com who is "guilty" of libel by linking to the content.

You have introduced an ambiguity there. If you were to insert a link into your website, you created the link. If someone posted a comment on your site with a link, they created the link. From a legal point of view, those creating the link could be said to "own" the link and, therefore, be responsible for any legal ramifications resultant from that link.

TinyURL.com does not make links, but provides a service to do so. Users create the link. So if anyone were to be held responsible for the link, the user creating that link is the closest logical "owner." Though, good luck figuring out who created the link, hence the ambiguity. Would TinyURL.com be held liable by the court to identify the link creator?

---
IANAL is one letter away from IAMAL.

Re:How far would this have carried? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29458839)

If secondary links aren't libel, do TinyURLs save you?

I wouldn't think so. TinyURLs are effectively aliases for other URLs. Similarly, a URL is, in the first place, effectively an alias for an IP address. Therefore, if TinyURLs saved you, then so would any link at all that used DNS names and not IP addresses.

The underlying question would be, where does the link take the user? TinyURLs take the user to the exact same place that the "real" URL takes them. The fact that there's a redirect in between is irrelevant from the user's perspective, and the entire judgement was based on the user's perspective.

This is all academic, of course, since the judgment went the "right" way, anyway.

Re:How far would this have carried? (3, Informative)

mqduck (232646) | more than 5 years ago | (#29459309)

Imagine for a second if the verdict had gone the other way. I wonder how far it would have carried.

It did go the other way, and it got as far as the Court of Appeals.

Re:How far would this have carried? (1)

plen246 (1195843) | more than 5 years ago | (#29462231)

It did go the other way, and it got as far as the Court of Appeals.

FTFA:

A divided court upheld a lower court ruling that there was no publication in merely linking to content and therefore no liability.

It did not go the other way. Crookes was the one who appealed.

There is a Difference (4, Insightful)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 5 years ago | (#29458207)

A site address has to be highlighted, copied and pasted into an address bar in order for the site to be navigated to. A hyperlinked need only be clicked. Once.

It's obvious to anyone that legally, the hyperlink is no more than text and citation rolled into one entity. But socially and ergonomically, the hyperlink is an invention on par with putting spaces between words and the decimal system. Sure, you could emulate it with older techniques, but you could never replace it.

The people who bring these cases don't care about legalities. They care about just how easy these links, and the internet in general, make it for other people to access material that they don't want anybody seeing, or doing anything they don't want them to do. The issue for the legal beligerants here is not the legality, but the social and cultural effect of me being able to write the church of Scientology believes in an ancient intergalactic emperor called Xenu. [xenu.net]

Me writing those words is one thing. Giving a like to a website is another. But merging the together, offing a statement and a place where more can be read is what they detest. It breaks completely the old model they preferred, where media was one way, from distributors to people, and that most information was hard to find and harder to get to. The hyperlink and the internet have the ability to make information equally accessible, anywhere any-time, in a piece of text. What the people bring these case want is to take awy the power of the hyperlink, to try and make it conform to the old rules of distributors liability and one way media. They want to put the genies back in the bottle.

The media and the legal profession hates the hyperlink. The irreverence and convenience with which it provides and uncovers information is in their eyes a blasphemy towards the intricate, esoteric bureaucracy from which they derive their power. When people like Pamela Jones [groklaw.net] can discuss in a popular way complex laws, suits and legalities using hyperlinked blog posts, this raises questions of why we should defer so much to distributors and legal customs.

These cases are not so much legal battles, as they are social ones.

Re:There is a Difference (1)

Chirs (87576) | more than 5 years ago | (#29458499)

"A site address has to be highlighted, copied and pasted into an address bar in order for the site to be navigated to."

With firefox/linux it's a matter of highlighting the URL and clicking the middle mouse button. This pastes the URL into the browser, causing it to open that URL.

One click vs two clicks and a mouse twitch. Minimal difference.

Re:There is a Difference (1)

Atlantis-Rising (857278) | more than 5 years ago | (#29459717)

That's rather ridiculous. The media and the legal profession dislikes the internet as a whole because it draws no real distinction between those who distribute content and those who receive it. You can distribute and receive it at the same time; you can effectively distribute media without actually distributing it...

There is a real difference between telling somewhere where to get something illegal and then them having to get in their car and go over to get it. What is the difference between linking someone to something illegal and printing it? Why should one be distribution and the other not? The difference between information and distribution narrows significantly with the internet and so the rules that applied to one and not the other no longer make sense.

This is not necessarily a positive state of affairs; the old regime made a lot of sense, and unfortunately now we are having to redefine the boundaries in a way not entirely optimal.

Sudden Outbreak of Common Sense (2, Interesting)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 5 years ago | (#29458469)

Of course this is the only possible common sense outcome, since in the alternative an opposite ruling would have banned hyperlinks altogether. This is because you never know what's on the other end of a link since the author of that page can change it at any time.

Btw, I don't type in text links from articles. I cut & paste them, which is often necessary on stupid blog sites that break the link across lines and only include the first line as the clickable (and incomplete) hyperlink.

Agknaa (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29458673)

right Now. I tried, the channel to sign

This story is much larger than it seems (1)

Boawk (525582) | more than 5 years ago | (#29459255)

This case stems out of a much larger issue regarding abuses by Canada's Human Rights Tribunal [macleans.ca] .

Yuo f4il iT (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29459345)

You Zjoin today! *BSD but FrreBSD

How would this case work out... (1)

sam0737 (648914) | more than 5 years ago | (#29460463)

I recalled that there was a case in Hong Kong a few years ago that convicted a man because he linked some illegal content. I forgot if the content was warez or underage p0rn. But at any case, the point was he was distributing the links (direct download links or massive file downloading service I presumes) on discussion forums, and the judge concluded that it contributes the action of "distribution" and hence violates the law.

Both Hong Kong and Canada are under the Common Law system, courts still refer to each others' cases frequently if I am not wrong, I wonder how this would work out.

I found this bit particularly interesting and true (2, Informative)

mrdtr (1343377) | more than 5 years ago | (#29462841)

[19] Key passages from the trial judgeâ(TM)s reasons with respect to the issue of whether hyperlinking in this case amounted to the publication of the defamatory articles by Mr. Newton are paras. 29-31, as follows:

          [29] A hyperlink is like a footnote or a reference to a website in printed material such as a newsletter [as in Carter]. The purpose of a hyperlink is to direct the reader to additional material from a different source. The only difference is the ease with which a hyperlink allows the reader, with a simple click of the mouse, to instantly access the additional material.

          [30] Although a hyperlink provides immediate access to material published on another website, this does not amount to republication of the content on the originating site. This is especially so as a reader may or may not follow the hyperlinks provided.

          [31] I conclude that the reasoning of the Court of Appeal in Carter leads to the same conclusion on the narrower issue before me. Readers of a newsletter, whether in paper form or online, who read of a reference to a third party website, may go to that website. I conclude that that does not make the publisher of the web address a publisher of what readers find when they get there.

[20] The trial judge emphasized that Mr. Newton did not publish any defamatory material in his own article on the p2pnet website; he did not reproduce any of the content from the impugned articles; and he did not comment on them. The trial judge adopted the proposition found in MacFadden v. Anthony, 117 N.Y.S. 2d 520 (Sup. Ct. 1952), and Klein v. Biben, 296 N.Y. 638, 69 N.E. 2d 682 (Ct. App. 1946), that âoereference to an article containing defamatory content without repetition of the comment itself should not be found to be a republication of such defamatory contentâ.

Re: (1)

clint999 (1277046) | more than 5 years ago | (#29465491)

I don't know why one would imply the other. The underlying laws (copyright law vs. defamation laws) are completely different in terms of rationale and of what constitutes an offense.

Logical ruling respects concepts of freedom? Wut? (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 5 years ago | (#29467457)

Holy crap, sanity. The equivalent to "That guy over there is saying something gnasty about soandso!" isn't a problem in and of itself.

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