Monday, March 07, 2005

Court Prohibits Linking to Circumvention Software

A German court has prohibited the German news site Heise to link in an online article to a site were circumvention software was made available. The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) complaint that the news article provided information and a link that should be deemed illegal under the anti-circumvention provision of the German Copyright Law. I outlined this complaint in an earlier posting, in which I also mentioned some similarities with the Dutch case. In that case the linking to a "download site" was not deemed infringing, although a Norwegian court decided the opposite in the case.

Now a court in Munich has decided that Heise may not link to a site where the circumvention software is actually made available. While IFPI's much broader demands, which would have made writing likewise articles impossible, were not met, this decision is still a bit troubling. Heise claims a success in this case, because it may still publish (and keep in its archives) articles on circumvention, but one of the essential architectural characteristics of the web is being cut through wit this decision: the hyperlink. You may read about circumvention software, but you may not actually know where to get it. Even if the provider of the link does not actually offer the software on its servers and any search engine will lead you to it. Heise may calim to have gotten a small part of the bigger evil, but it still looks pretty bad to me.
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Thru Urheberrecht (German)


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