Check Your Links

Studio giant Miramax is standing by a cease and desist letter it sent to the owner of http://www.kungfucinema.com/, claiming the King Fu site was selling copies of a movie the studio has the rights to. Trouble is, the site doesn’t sell films, it just linked to the legitimate distributor of the film, although the link was old in that the distributor no longer sells the film. And therein was the basis of Miramax’s problem.

This is an interesting microcosm. Kung Fu Cinema is a site providing reviews and information about a particular movie genre, established by a passionate individual, and no threat commercially to a company like Miramax – not that it even sees itself as a threat in the first place.

How many fan sites are there on the Net? How many link, as a courtesy to their readers, to other sites retailing movies? Does Miramax intend to threaten them all? A ridiculous thought. But the parallel with the music end of the business is clearly apparent. Teenagers in Sydney now have a criminal record after being found guilty of an offence – operating a web site which linked to music content. Sure, some of that content may or may not have been legitimately offered for download by the linked sites. And that’s why the teens have a rap sheet.

But put all this together, and the inevitable conclusion is that anyone who operates a web site as part of their passion or hobby, better make damn sure they don’t link to web sites which aren’t legitimately distributing copyrighted content.

Sounds so easy to say. Now try and make it a reality.

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