Thursday, November 6, 2014

Spain passes law against hyperlinking to copyright-infringing material; does this matter in the US?

Spain has passed a knee-jerk law which can make it a crime to link (knowingly) to content that infringes on copyright.  This law, which takes effect in early 2015, seems to be a reaction to attempts by advertisers to get around paying royalties to European publishers for thumbnails and other oblique reproductions with simple links (and embeds), and a so-called “Google tax”. 

In the US, links have been regarded as “bibliographic” since 2000, although I think that there are publishers who would try to sue over infringing video “embeds”. (A few sites still claim they can control who can link to them, not very successfully.)   I try to keep my own embeds restricted to sources that appear credible or are owned by the original publisher, but even so I sometimes see some of the embeds go blank (or “go bald”) when their providers were yanked by YouTube for copyright infringement. 
Electronic Frontier Foundation has a detailed story by Jeremy Malcom, “Spanish copyright amendments will shake down news sites and censor the web”, link here.  EFF is very critical here of older companies defending older business models predicating on gatekeeping what can be published.

It’s not immediately clear if this would matter to most speakers in the US, although it could matter to companies that do business specifically in Spain.  It reminds me of the “right to forget” litigation which also started in Spain (which I visited, the Bilbao and Basque areas) in 2001.  This story bears careful watching. 

European (and UK) law is somewhat less protective of individual speech than IS law in general. One wonders how this will play out with social media sites that host jihadist material than seems to incite violence from the mentally unstable, or to recruit (as with this AP video). .  

Wikipedia attribution link for second picture, aerial view of Bilabo, including Guggenheim musuem.  First picture is mine from Hawksbill Mountain Nov. 5.  

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