What is Metafilter.com's policy on linking directly to pirated material? December 21, 2005 12:47 AM   Subscribe

What is Metafilter.com's policy on linking directly to pirated material, or overseas websites that exist to solely to host pirated material? I'm not trying to start a moral debate, and IANAL, I'm just concerned as to what mathowie or the poster's legal liabilities are, and what mathowie's policy on the matter is?
posted by Pseudoephedrine to Etiquette/Policy at 12:47 AM (43 comments total)

As far As I know, linking to material or content isnt the against the law in my state, or google would be in trouble.
The same as linking to sites that sell mod chips, its only illegal to buy them.

We link to google copies of video all the time.
posted by IronWolve at 12:55 AM on December 21, 2005


Is it "the best of the web"? Is it "on the web"?
The web knows no boundries.
posted by Balisong at 12:56 AM on December 21, 2005


"it's better to beg for forgiveness after the fact, than to beg for permisson." - Bush
posted by Balisong at 12:58 AM on December 21, 2005


It's a lame post, and that's a weak excuse, Ironwolve.

Exposing this community to the jackbooted thugs currently running wild over emergent technology is both ill-considered, and completely uncalled for. How is a single link post to some frikken TV show even close to be the best of the web?

As to the morality of stealing the intellectual property of others, its up to each individual to decide. You clearly have no problem with robbing others for your own entertainment. As for me, I live in Canada where downloading files is not illegal, but I still wouldn't do it. If an artist has any value to me, I'll pay for their work, and this includes buskers on the street.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 1:08 AM on December 21, 2005


Linking isnt illegal, and if you check mininova, you will see links to legal software. So nice try to slam me when you didnt check the facts. Part of the problem is you cant talk about copyrights without someone calling the "pr8" card. Sounds like someone bought all the hype that BT is only for illegal uses.
posted by IronWolve at 1:16 AM on December 21, 2005


I have trouble deciding whether PareidoliaticBoy is completely serious or making an extremely convincing joke.
posted by nonmerci at 1:16 AM on December 21, 2005


It's an interesting question. Mininova is not, of course, hosting the IP-infringing material itself, as another prominent swedish pirate site likes to point out in its mocking letters to IP lawyers.

I guess the question is more about what #1's policy is than the legality, though. I doubt a serious legal case could be made that linking to a mininova page equates to an IP violation, but large IP-owning companies are notoriously litigous, so it seems like a good idea to ask. I don't see anything in the guidelines that mentions this.

Just as a matter of pure paranoid discretion, though, my opinion is that it would be better to say "this episode is available on the usual p2p sites" than to link directly to a torrent download page. The people who are interested in downloading it will know where to look already, and the ones who don't will have less cause for complaint.
posted by whir at 1:21 AM on December 21, 2005


but...
that comment in the Blue doesn't "link directly to pirated material". In fact it doesn't link directly to any material, save a web page. Nor does that web page link directly to pirated material. Nor does it link directly to any video material.

Including a link to a sub-page of a BitTorrent tracking site is a pretty safe venture.
posted by NinjaPirate at 1:25 AM on December 21, 2005






posted by geekyguy at 1:26 AM on December 21, 2005


frikken

Once again, I must ask: Is this a legitimate word that's been imported from Hindi? I don't wish to assume that MetaFilter readers are intimately familiar with and could and do easily handle the repeated and persistant use of the fuck word, so I have to wonder whether I am simply missing the fact that this is a commonly used word amongst adults, and then I must further wonder about the origin of this word. I would hate to find myself at a restaurant and be the only one at the table unfamiliar with frikken tikka masala.
posted by gramschmidt at 1:32 AM on December 21, 2005


The post sucks, but pseudoephedrine is also full of bullshit, having first expressed his dislike of the post in the thread then surreptitiously calls IronWolve out of supposed concern for mathowie.
posted by fred_ashmore at 1:41 AM on December 21, 2005


This idea that intellectual property theft somehow miraculously isn't any different from other commercial crimes is willfully ignorant. It suits a selfish world-view that a free lunch is, in fact, available. Arguing the razor-thin legality of a post, while ignoring the bigger question of it's ethicality and overall worth is specious, at best. What you so ingenuously promote speaks volumes about your sense of self-entiltement, Ironwolve. Speak not to me about whether something is allowed, speak to me instead about whether it is justified. Your own glee over what you likely perceive as something for nothing doesn't necessarily attach to some others.

Now we can debate over the suitability of content 'till the cows come home. I suppose; but as for the presentation, itself ... well... knock yourself out denigrating and mocking the sensibilities ofentire nations in your posts if you want, Ironwolve; after-all, it's your thread to weave. But I think you can see that this approach hasn't gone over especially well.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 2:04 AM on December 21, 2005


I have so much downloading to do now.
posted by mathowie at 2:47 PM CST on December 20 [!]

And psuedoephedrine, if you're so concern about linking to a these overseas dens of piracy, why did you link directly to it in your callout.
posted by birdherder at 2:07 AM on December 21, 2005


Not to nitpick, but the torrent link is for a tv show that is not even commercially available. Like "The Power of Nightmares" which I seem to recall was linked to without any objections.

(And yes the post is terrible, but very amusing...)
posted by funambulist at 2:17 AM on December 21, 2005


Yeah, it's a crap post, but I really don't see the ethical problem with linking to copyrighted material that's not available outside its country of origin - it isn't like there'll be lost revenue.
posted by terpsichoria at 2:23 AM on December 21, 2005


My my, aren't we long-winded!
posted by nonmerci at 2:30 AM on December 21, 2005


Frikken

It's a word to provide emphasis without offending the sensibilities of others, gramschmidt. I thought I had spontaneously invented it when I first went online, but it turns out that thousands of others also had the same flash of inspiration. In an odd synchronicity, I think it was popularized by a Canadian in a film that mocked some long-standing British stereotypes.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 2:36 AM on December 21, 2005


My my, aren't we long-winded!
posted by nonmerci at 2:30 AM PST on December 21


Is your point that no one should ever discuss complex issues with any substance, nonmerci? Pithiness doesn't always equate with wisdom. I could easily find much longer comments in almost any thread on the front page, but what point would that possibly serve? .

If you have something to say, say it. That passive-aggressive schtick is strictly from hunger, baby.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 2:51 AM on December 21, 2005


*Crushes up pseudoephedrine, insufflates generously.*

*Coughs violently for a few minutes, then grins like a corpse.*

*Suddenly attacks IronWolve with a staff of Only a Shitlicking Nunfucker Would Put a Fucking Apostrophe There*

Artifact of Spelling gives +5D20, plus a +4 bonus agility modifier to PC from Ephedra potion, plus a +10 assassination bonus for surprise attack.

*IronWolve roughly grasps clue and a vague concept of the conventional use of plurals just before detonating.*
posted by loquacious at 3:09 AM on December 21, 2005


The FPP was shit. The movie link was to copyright material. It should go.

Comapring to The Power of Nightmares may be irrelevant because Channel4 and BBC1 (I've forgotten who made it) do release a lot of their stuff through their websites. As such, TPoN might have been out there with the owners permission. Frankly I can't be arsed to go check. :)
posted by twine42 at 3:12 AM on December 21, 2005

What is Metafilter.com's policy on linking directly to pirated material, or overseas websites that exist to solely to host pirated material?
AFAIK there is not and should not be a policy. The link is not to pirated material. Rather, it's a link to a torrent file which in turn links to the pirated media distributed on a few machines all over the world. There's a difference.
I'm not trying to start a moral debate, and IANAL, I'm just concerned as to what mathowie or the poster's legal liabilities are, and what mathowie's policy on the matter is?
There are none. Of course IANAL either, but calm down. Gee. Oh and I'm off to download some more music now via FileMP3.org. Quick, tell someone who gives a shit.
posted by sjvilla79 at 3:35 AM on December 21, 2005


Hah hah! Copyright. [/Phil Ken Sebben]
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:40 AM on December 21, 2005


The Power of Nightmares is available through Archive.org so I presume it's there with the approval of the creators.

But on-topic, the FFP is shit, there's a TV show on, SFW?
posted by Navek Rednam at 4:31 AM on December 21, 2005


I removed the FPP. I have mixed feelings about people doing FPPs linking to torrents or other copyrighted stuff as their main [or only] link. Seems to me that while the web is the method of getting this content, MeFi works best when it's linking to things that are ON the web, not thing that were placed on the web just for speedy web delivery. I'm not so concerned with the IP issues, just the "why link to every joke on the Daily Show, can't you just watch the Daily Show?" issues. It may be an arbitrary distinction, I realize.
posted by jessamyn at 4:54 AM on December 21, 2005


Rule # 1: Don't make trouble for Matt.
posted by caddis at 4:55 AM on December 21, 2005


Frikken has been used by kids in Utah and southern Alberta for much longer than Austin Powers has been around. See also: flip, fetch, and "oh my heck"
posted by blue_beetle at 6:14 AM on December 21, 2005


You can download things for free off the Internet?
posted by geoff. at 6:47 AM on December 21, 2005


It seems like a lame post, linking to a one-paragraph writeup of something no one can see online is a dead-end for almost anyone clicking on the link. Good call on deleting it.

As to piracy, I don't want mefi to be a trading post for warez links as that would become a problem, but it's not a black and white issue for me. On the broad scale of harmless to evil, torrents of a tv show are pretty far over on the harmless side of the scale. TV shows aren't typically multimillion dollar projects that depend on ticket sales to survive like movies -- more often they're things that play once then not again for many months and someday, if you're lucky, they wind up on DVD. So I don't really have a problem with this specific comment.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 6:49 AM on December 21, 2005


This idea that intellectual property theft somehow miraculously isn't any different from other commercial crimes is willfully ignorant.

First of all, it's a tort, not a crime, making the practictioners my favorite new word: tortfeasors, not criminals.

The only one 'willfully ignorant' here is you. Idiot.
posted by delmoi at 6:50 AM on December 21, 2005


Artifact of Spelling gives +5D20, plus a +4 bonus agility modifier to PC from Ephedra potion, plus a +10 assassination bonus for surprise attack.

*swallows eight-sided dice after laughing so hard*
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 7:18 AM on December 21, 2005


This idea that intellectual property theft somehow miraculously isn't any different from other commercial crimes is willfully ignorant.

seconding what delmoi said (minus the pejorative aspect), for the last frikken' time, it's copyright infringement, not "theft" of any sort.

but don't let that get in the way of the MPAA/RIAA propaganda campaign that you've apparently internalized.
posted by Hat Maui at 8:31 AM on December 21, 2005


sjvilla79 said: AFAIK there is not and should not be a policy. The link is not to pirated material. Rather, it's a link to a torrent file which in turn links to the pirated media distributed on a few machines all over the world. There's a difference.

Sorry, that's just totally stupid. By that logic you could link to a redirect that links to illegal material, but not link directly to it. Either accept linking to material of dubious legality, or don't accept it, and if the latter don't accept links to torrents either.

It would be a different situation if you linked to a page which had amongst other content a link to such material, but the sole purpose of the torrent is to provide you with the data in question.
posted by edd at 11:22 AM on December 21, 2005


Sorry, that's just totally stupid. By that logic you could link to a redirect that links to illegal material, but not link directly to it.

Isn't stupid, and is the way things work -- and it isn't a different situation under the scheme you posted above. Otherwise, where do you draw the line? One link away? Two? Three? I guarantee that I can find a link to a torrent tracker in three clicks, from any link to a major news story on, say, CNN or Yahoo News.

And most of the links posted do not go directly to a page that contains only the 'pirated material' in question. There is, more often than not, discussion about the content, particularly on sites like The Pirate Bay.

And even a pointer to mininova.org is not pointing to a list made up solely of infringing material.

In any event, there has been case law in some countries which indicates that linking to an infringing file that is not hosted by the person linking himself is not illegal or infringing. Thus, regardless of my arguments disagreeing with you, at least some legal minds disagree that it is "just totally stupid".
posted by solid-one-love at 2:38 PM on December 21, 2005


Yes, I was not fond of the post itself, but the infringement happened after I had already mentioned that the post was unsuitable. It's a separate issue, one that seemed like it needed clarification.

I linked to mininova.org because I presume doing so itself isn't illegal. But IronWolve's link wasn't to mininova.org's frontpage (mine was), it linked directly to a torrent off of it.

Matt> Thanks for the clarification.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 2:49 PM on December 21, 2005


And even a pointer to mininova.org is not pointing to a list made up solely of infringing material.
Which is exactly a situation I was excluding.

In any event, there has been case law in some countries which indicates that linking to an infringing file that is not hosted by the person linking himself is not illegal or infringing. Thus, regardless of my arguments disagreeing with you, at least some legal minds disagree that it is "just totally stupid".
Which again is exactly a situation I was excluding. I'm talking purely about a link to a link, where the second link points solely to offending material.
posted by edd at 3:08 PM on December 21, 2005


Which again is exactly a situation I was excluding. I'm talking purely about a link to a link, where the second link points solely to offending material.

Regardless of what you're talking about (I can't even tell anymore), it has occurred here, is acceptable, and is not just totally stupid.
posted by solid-one-love at 3:43 PM on December 21, 2005


But why is it IronWolve? Why?
posted by cortex at 5:27 PM on December 21, 2005


Thanks for clarifying the nomenclature of the offence , Hat Amui. Tort , copyright-infringement... whatever. It's still taking something from others, and not paying for it.

I appreciate your comment about having internalized the propaganda of special interest groups, HAt MAui, but this is simply not the case. I didn't do it 30 years ago, when friends wanted to borrow records to tape, way back in the analog ers. I decided against it, before the RIAA or MPAA existed, because it's wrong.

Locally, we had the advantage of purchasing music with minimal markups. Fred Steiner's idea was to draw customers into his stereo store by offering music to the public almost for cost, and making his profits from selling the hardware to play it back. For 40 years, A&B Sound offered the lowest prices in the world for lovers of music, often charging less than a 10% markup for new releases. But the advent of Internet file-sharing spelled the financial doom of a once thriving business. Many of my former colleagues there have found themselves amongst the ranks of the unemployed due to the Receivership of A&B Sound.

I'm sure that those employees will take solace from the words of Delmoi, as they explain to their children that there will be no Christmas this year. After all, they are the idiots, in expecting people to pay for their entertainment.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 10:45 PM on December 21, 2005


copyright infringement = theft of intellectual property
posted by caddis at 11:01 PM on December 21, 2005


PBoy, home taping is explicitly permitted under copyright law in Canada. I can't ee how any reasonable person could consider it to be wrong.

And if A&B wanted to stay in business, they should have changed their business model such that they were selling the lowest-priced iPods in the world. I have no sympathy for a business that fails due to a failure to adapt to the marketplace. None.

And, caddis: no. Just plain wrong. Infringement is not theft, by any useful definition.
posted by solid-one-love at 11:03 AM on December 22, 2005


theft, aka "conversion," is a very different tort from copyright infringement. most importantly, it's criminal conduct, whereas copyright infringement is subject to civil penalties only.

no one's going to come to your house and arrest you for downloading britney spears. but if you stole your neighbor's copy of "hit me baby one more time" and the neighbor could prove it, you could be arrested and charged.

I didn't do it 30 years ago, when friends wanted to borrow records to tape, way back in the analog ers. I decided against it, before the RIAA or MPAA existed, because it's wrong.

i'm glad you're such a moral cat, para-whatever boy (don't expect me to get your handle right if you can't get mine right. twice.) but your "morality" isn't shared by all, nor is your definition of "wrong." it's fine for you to feel that way, but not all of us agree that such means for proliferation of music is wrong.
posted by Hat Maui at 11:39 AM on December 22, 2005


*cringes*

Sorry Hat Maui, please accept my apologies about that.

*triple checks the nick*

The spell-check prompted me on your nick twice, I meant to fix those typos before posting. But then on preview, I missed them, and posted without fixing them.

I was horrified to see those typos when I read the thread at lunch today. That's what I get for posting after a 14 hour day, I guess. As for my own nick, I sometimes misspell it when logging in, so no worries there. Mostly everyone online just calls me P Boy, anywaze.

I fully understand that most disagree about my stance with regard to copying material, I certainly am not expecting to make any converts here. I do however appreciate that you and I can debate these issues in a respectful fashion.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 9:33 PM on December 22, 2005


theft, aka "conversion," is a very different tort from copyright infringement. most importantly, it's criminal conduct, whereas copyright infringement is subject to civil penalties only.

Ignorance of the law is no defense. Depending upon the quantity and nature of the infringement it very well can be criminal, not just civil.
posted by caddis at 10:36 PM on December 22, 2005


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