States v. Navrestad
According to a military appellate court's decision
in the USA, the act of distributing a hyperlink to an online source of child
pornography does not subject the defendant to criminal liability for
distributing the child pornography available at that web site.
P. Navrestad was charged under Article 134, Uniform
Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), 10 U.S.C. § 934 (2000), with distributing and
possessing child pornography in violation of the Child Pornography Prevention
Act of 1996 (CPPA), 18 U.S.C. §§ 2251-2260 (2000). He had send a hyperlink to a
Yahoo! Briefcase during an Internet chat session. The linked to site contained
child pornography images. 18 U.S.C. § 2256(8) defines child pornography as “any
visual depiction, including any photograph, film, video, picture, or computer or
computer-generated image or picture . . . of sexually explicit conduct, where .
. . the production of such visual depiction involves the use of a minor engaging
in sexually explicit conduct." "Visual depiction” in turn, “includes . . .
data stored on computer disk or by electronic means which is capable of
conversion into a visual image.” 18 U.S.C. § 2256(5).
So the key question was whether a hyperlink
contains “data stored . . . by electronic means which is capable of conversion
into a visual image." The court stressed the fact that a hyperlink only provides the
recipient with a path to another website. It does not contain data itself. So
the court held that Navrestad did not distribute child pornography. But the
decision was a close one, 3:2. In his dissenting opinion, judge Effron wrote: "The
recipient’s ability to access and use images transmitted by hyperlink is
functionally indistinguishable from the ability to access and use images
transmitted as individually saved files."
United States v. Navrestad,
No. 07-0199 (C.A.A.F., May 14, 2008).
MPAA v. Film links sites
Picture Association of America (MPAA) has filed suits against Fomdb.com and
Movierumor.com, alleging contributory copyright infringement and inducement
of copyright infringement, because they provide links to
copyright-infringing copies of movies.
"These sites contribute to and profit from massive copyright infringement by
identifying, posting, organizing, and indexing links to infringing content
found on the Internet that consumers can then view on-demand," said an MPAA
this year, the MPAA settled two similiar cases against Showstash and
Cinematube. The defendants admitted that they were liable for infringement.
Showstash agreed to a payment of 2.7 million US-Dollar and Cinematube 1.3
The ruling in the
Cinematube case reads: "Defendant has engaged in contributory
copyright infringement and inducement of copyright infringement by actively
searching for, identifying, collecting, posting, organizing, indexing, and
posting on his website (www.cinematube.net) links to infringing material,
which has been posted on thirdparty websites".
Torrent Search Engine
On Wednesday, 23 November 2005,
Bram Cohen, the founder and chief executive of BitTorrent
and Motion Picture Association of America Chairman Dan Glickman announced a
collaboration with the goal of inhibiting film piracy.
BitTorrent is a peer-to-peer
(P2P) file distribution application that can be used to distribute files without
the permission of the copyright holder. Cohen said
BitTorrent.com will remove all links to pirated content owned by MPAA companies
from its search engine.
"BitTorrent Inc. discourages the use of its technology for distributing films
without a license to do so," Cohen said in a statement. "As such, we are pleased
to work with the film industry to remove unauthorized content from
bittorrent.com's search engine."
It is expected that the move
will do little to actually reduce piracy, as the search
engine on BitTorrent.com is just one of many that finds "torrents". Many other
websites continue to refer visitors to movies, though the MPAA began suing some
November 24, 2005: Tanner,
MPAA, Bit Torrent reach agreement, DMasia:
"The Motion Picture Association of America
(MPAA) announced yesterday that it has reached an agreement with Bram Cohen,
the designer of peer-to-peer (P2P) software Bit Torrent, to remove links to
video content owned by the seven member studios of the MPAA from
November 23, 2005: Jardin, Xeni,
A Torrent or a Trickle?, Wired News:
"It's all but certain the deal between the Motion Picture Association of
America and BitTorrent creator Bram Cohen won't dent the file-swapping
epidemic, let alone stop it."
November 23, 2005: Smith,
BitTorrent to block links to pirate flicks, The Register:
"BitTorrent creator Bram Cohen has agreed to strip links to pirate movies
out of his bittorrent.com search engine."
November 23, 2005: Utter,
BitTorrent And MPAA Find Common Ground, Webpronews:
"The creator of the high-speed file sharing application has linked up with
Hollywood studios in an effort to clamp down on movie piracy and promote a
way for film distributors to get their wares to users online."
MPAA v. Torrent Sites
The Motion Picture Association of America and major
film and TV studios filed suit February 23 against seven Web sites for copyright
infringement. The suit alleges that defendants knowingly enable, encourage,
induce and profit from massive online piracy by indexing so called eDonkey hash
links, thus enabling users to locate and download infringing copies of
Plaintiffs' copyrighted motion pictures and television shows for free and
without authorization. By clicking on the file name, an illegal copy of the
movie or television program is automatically copied to a user’s computer. Sites
sued include Torrentspy.com, TorrentBox.com and Ed2k-it.com. It is the first
time that the studios and the MPAA sue indexing Web sites in the US (we have seen
similiar lawsuits in Germany; they were successfull!)
One complaint can be found at
QuickSilverScreen is a US based website that is
being forced to shut down or be given away for free after Fox claimed that
linking to TV Shows on video sharing sites like YouTube and DailyMotion is
A wiki about a controversial prescription drug,
Zyprexa, has been
ordered by a US court to remove a link to documents which originated with
Eli Lilly, the drug's manufacturer. Zyprexa is Eli Lilly's best selling drug,
used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Eli Lilly recently agreed to
pay up to $500 million to settle claims relating to Zyprexa. According to
the New York Times the documents showed that the company deliberately downplayed
the side effects of the drug.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) intervened:
"Preventing a citizen-journalist from posting links to important health
information on a public wiki violates the First Amendment" (see the
release and the
Although the judge rejected the First Amendment
arguments made by a variety of individuals eager to publish the documents, the
court reversed his decision in relation to the wiki, which had published a link to
District Court Final Judgment Order and Injunction