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TVLinks Shut Down, Owner Arrested!

Probably the most popular video streaming site around has been busted by UK authorities.

It’s a sad day for streaming video fans everywhere as news has been reported that TVLinks has been shut down and the owner, a 26yo man from Chelteham in the UK, was arrested.

Update: TVLinks alternatives
Update#2: TVLinks to Return ‘Soon?’

Though not hosting an actual content himself, and rather merely providing links to where particular titles can be found, he was nonetheless apparently charged for the “facilitation” of copyright infringement.

“Sites such as TV Links contribute to and profit from copyright infringement by identifying, posting, organizing, and indexing links to infringing content found on the internet that users can then view on demand by visiting these illegal sites,” said a spokesman for Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) today.

What makes the charges so odd is that he was again, only providing LINKS to pirated content, and never actually hosted anything. Can linking really be considered “facilitation?” If I link to TVLinks am I then a co-conspirator?

Here’s the TVLinks disclaimer:

TV Links is not responsible for any content linked to or referred to from these pages.
TV Links does not host any content on our Servers
All video links point to content hosted on third party webites. Users who upload to these websites agree not to upload illegal content when creating their user accounts. TV Links does not accept responsibility for content hosted on third party websites.

The notion of making linking a crime is ridiculous and completely out of line. How would anybody be able to discuss controversial sites or content if they first had to ensure the legality of the destination? Would we have to make it so that links were simply spelled out and not HTML capable(www.tvlinks.co.uk vs TVLinks)? Maybe this is the answer because I think then it could fall under the category of speech. Furthermore, it really shows that Google is getting away with bloody murder via sites like YouTube and Google Video.

FACT goes on to revisit the same old diatribe about how piracy is stealing food from form the tables of people who work in the film industry, but with guys like Brad Pitt reportedly getting $20million bucks to make trash like “Babel” who’s really robbing who? Couldn’t Pitt be paid a little less, say $15 million, and leave that other 5 for the “starving” film crew? I guess not

“The theft and distribution of films harms the livelihoods of those working in the UK film industry and in ancillary industries, as well as damaging the economy,” said FACT’s director general Kieron Sharp.

What’s even more surprising is that the move was part of an overall strategy to crack down on piracy, though all it does is target a middleman who tells you where to go. More importantly, will its demise really compel people to find content legally or to suddenly run down to their local cinema? I think not, and all it means, as is usually the case with piracy, is that people will just go elsewhere.

Either way R.I.P. TVLinks, it was nice while it lasted. Maybe once again we have a case where Sweden’s the only answer.