The founder and some staff of a directory site called TV Links was arrested this weekend and the site was shut down by British police. Tv-links.co.uk listed links to other sites where visitors could find television content, often posted without permission of copyright holders.
It's one of those cases in which it's hard not to think both "I can't believe this happened" and "I can't believe it took so long" in the same mental breath. Crazed, uncontrolled linking has long been one of the biggest points of contention between people who use the internet and people who have no idea how it works.
Critics of the legal move argue that if linking to illegal content is itself illegal, much of the internet, including Google and YouTube, would be much more reasonable targets than this little British site (correction, as commenters have pointed out - TV Link was not really a little site).
Kieron Sharp, the Director of FACT, the British legal department that carried out the raid (who could argue with them?) said the following about TV Links. "Sites such as TV-Links contribute to and profit from copyright infringement by identifying, posting, organising, and indexing links to infringing content found on the internet that users can then view on demand by visiting these illegal sites." Sharp says this is only the beginning and many more sites will go down in the near future.
If Mr. Sharp will forgive me for linking to it, I will point out that the Internet Archive has preserved copies of the wretched TV Links site through the past 12 months. I want to emphasize that I'm only linking to a site that's cached a site that's linking to other sites that may include content that could have been uploaded without the copyright holder's consent. I hope that's ok; if it's not I'm going to take the rest of the day off of the internet.