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Judge Thinks Linking To Copyrighted Material Should Be Illegal 390

Posted by Soulskill
from the don't-you-point-at-me dept.
An article at TechCrunch discusses a blog post from Richard Posner, a US Court of Appeals judge, about the struggling newspaper industry. Posner explains why he thinks the newspapers will continue to struggle, and then comes to a rather unusual conclusion: "Expanding copyright law to bar online access to copyrighted materials without the copyright holder's consent, or to bar linking to or paraphrasing copyrighted materials without the copyright holder's consent, might be necessary to keep free riding on content financed by online newspapers from so impairing the incentive to create costly news-gathering operations that news services like Reuters and the Associated Press would become the only professional, nongovernmental sources of news and opinion."
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Judge Thinks Linking To Copyrighted Material Should Be Illegal

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  • So this implies... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gzipped_tar (1151931) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @12:18PM (#28505077) Journal
    ...probably the death of Slashdot?
    • by eggman9713 (714915) <{eggman97132007} {at} {mac.com}> on Sunday June 28, 2009 @12:25PM (#28505161)
      Mod parent WAY up! This could be devastating for information distribution. Look around on stories that link from here, Digg, Gizmodo, wherever, and see how many of them say "Copyright by blahblahblah". Imagine not being able to find that information except by checking all of those websites individually. Aggregation could be killed by this.
      • by davester666 (731373) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @01:10PM (#28505599) Journal

        This sounds like a "new methods are making an old business model obsolete, so we should outlaw the new methods" type thing.

        He is about to be deluged with requests by RIAA and MPAA members for him to write about their business model.

        • by hairyfeet (841228) <.bassbeast1968. .at. .gmail.com.> on Sunday June 28, 2009 @01:53PM (#28505991) Journal

          Actually I predict if this kind of asshattery is allowed that all the sites like Slashdot will simply be moved out of the USA to a place with more sane copyright laws. If they keep this shit up the USA is gonna be left all alone as some "insanity island" while everyone else gets with the program and moves to the 21st century.

          Why do you think China is kicking our asses so hard? Yes, it is partially lax environmental laws there, but I would argue that it is also because they completely ignore American copyrights and patents and therefor have a more cutthroat business model where "he who makes the best widget wins" while we have a "patent and copyright the hell out of everything, then sit back and sue" model going and it sucks. Does anybody else think that if Linux or some other OS suddenly shot up to...say 15%+ market share that Apple and MSFT would bury them in lawsuits? Nope, me neither.

          Our patents and copyrights have simply choked the life out of all innovation here. Trying to get anything done in the USA is like navigating a minefield, with the millions of patents and copyrights and patent trolls just waiting to pounce. I predict the USA will just be stuck more and more to the sidelines while the third world explodes with new ideas built upon American ideas but without a bunch of copyright and patent bullshit to slow them down. I am not saying we should abolish all patents and copyrights, I am saying we need to bring sanity back to the discussion. I would say patents should be a flat 25 years, copyrights 5-15 due to the ease of selling ideas thanks to the digital medium. Either way our copyrights and patents have gotten too ridiculous as the judge proves and will just serve to have more business avoid the USA like the clap.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Zygfryd (856098)

            If they keep this shit up the USA is gonna be left all alone as some "insanity island" while everyone else gets with the program and moves to the 21st century.

            Except, you know, the same (or similar) corporate forces behind the intellectual property push in the US are hard at work in the EU and in international organizations such as WIPO and WTO.
            ACTA is being worked on by the US, EU, Japan, Australia, NZ, Korea, Mexico, Canada and Germany, among others.

          • by icebike (68054) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @02:51PM (#28506457)

            Actually I predict if this kind of asshattery is allowed that all the sites like Slashdot will simply be moved out of the USA to a place with more sane copyright laws.

            Except you forget that this sort of asshattery (love that word) will not persist due to the internet friendly US Supreme Court.

            Linking is not a copyright violation because it does not contain any part the content. A brief summary is specifically allowed by US Copyright law.

            So the end result is this Appeals Court Judge gets bitchslapped by Supreme Court at the first opportunity. But more to the point, since he has published his opinion in the open press before a case is even brought before him he will have to recuse himself from any such case, or get turfed by the lawyers involved.

            So CALM DOWN. Before rushing to assume there is a more internet friendly country, at least propose one.

            The entire EU is courting three stikes.
            Australia and Britain are attempting to engage in massive filtering.
            China already filters, Iran is trying its damnedest, as are most islamic majority countries.

        • by NotBornYesterday (1093817) * on Sunday June 28, 2009 @02:11PM (#28506135) Journal
          Banning links to copyrighted material is plainly asinine. If I link to a news item from a news source (NYT, CRN, whomever) that supports its online presence through ad revenue, and if people follow my link and read the news item, I have helped generate traffic, and therefore revenue, for the news source. If the judge's idea is to help newspapers survive in the internet era, perhaps he should first understand internet economics a little better.
          • by canajin56 (660655) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @03:13PM (#28506615)
            If you link straight to the article, they lose the ad revenue from the 180,000 pages you have to click through from their front page to any actual news! ;)
          • by risk one (1013529) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @03:35PM (#28506751)

            It's not only vastly impractical, it turns the whole idea of the Internet on it's head. The whole idea of putting a file behind a publicly accessible URL is that you are making it public. All the rest, search engines, websites, aggregators everything else is just add-ons to make that act, and the act of typing the url into the address bar to get the file, more user-friendly. The act of putting something behind a URL without restricting access in any way, means you've made it public. That's the rule of the Internet. If you want to restrict access a bit more, you can use http-authentication or session based authentication, there's certainly no lack of options.

            Now if you want to build a business model on the internet, I wish you all the luck in the world, we know it's possible, but you do have to follow the one rule. Nobody forced you to be on the internet, feel free to leave again if you don't like it.

            Now, newspapers can legitimately gripe about people stealing their content, and semi-legitimately gripe about aggregators displaying it, but that has nothing to do with linking, and this guy doesn't know what he's talking about. The fact that he wants to ban paraphrasing others' content as well makes me wonder how the hell this guy came to be a judge.

            That sounds like it would be the single biggest threat to free speech in the last fifty years if it were to go anywhere. Imagine what the media conglomerates would do with a law like that.

          • by Maxwell'sSilverLART (596756) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @06:23PM (#28507937) Homepage

            Banning links to copyrighted material is plainly asinine.

            Banning links to copyrighted material would result in the legal destruction of the internet, at least in the US.

            Under US copyright law, copyrights for all material are held by the author (with certain limited exceptions). The vast majority of works never have their copyrights registered, but registration is not necessary for copyright to apply. "Banning links to copyrighted material" is thus redundant, and can be shortened to simply "banning links."

        • by TheoMurpse (729043) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @05:16PM (#28507489) Homepage

          Just to point out for those who don't know, Judge Posner [wikipedia.org] is probably the single most influential living jurist not on the Supreme Court (and will likely end up being more influential long-term than many on the Supreme Court; certainly more influential than Clarence Thomas). He teaches at one of the top six law schools in the country (Chicago), serves in one of the most important circuits in the country (Seventh, which includes Chicago--other important circuits are DC, 2d, and 9th), and is so ridiculously prolific. He's a pioneer of the currently en vogue jurisprudential theory of law and economics [wikipedia.org]. He frequently feeds clerks from his chambers to the Supreme Court as well

          My point is that this man has tremendous influence in the US. He's not an intellectual lightweight. Unfortunately, I can't read what he wrote since the blog entry seems to be down now.

    • by GreatBunzinni (642500) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @12:25PM (#28505163)
      It would, if the anyone clicked on the articles to read them. IF anyone clicked on the articles to read them.
      New at this, aren't we?
    • by ziggamon2.0 (796017) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @12:26PM (#28505171) Homepage
      And since half the articles are dupes, Slashdot is infringing on itself and must self-destruct!
    • by Raindance (680694) *

      Netcraft confirms it.

    • Nah (Score:4, Funny)

      by hansraj (458504) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @12:41PM (#28505315)

      Hey, have you been sleeping under some rock? We don't RTFAs in this part of the internet. The editors only have to insert a few phony "links" in the story to www.foo.bar

      "Slashdot effect" would have to be reinterpreted as "a bunch of people arguing about something without bothering to know the story" though, but around here we take pride in doing that.

      Now I will have to ask you to get off my fucking lawn.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 28, 2009 @12:55PM (#28505449)

      It would be so hilarious if they made this a real law. Sites like Slashdot would not die... sites that sued for being linked to would die. See... if you are in the search engine then the search engine *has* a link to your material. That means if you copyright your work and post it and linking to copyrighted material is illegal *then* you work will be invisible. If you can't be found on a search engine then you don't exist on the internet.

      People won't be able to email links to your stuff to each other since that would be illegal so effectively no one would be able to tell others about your work. It would mean the death of copyrighted material on line.

      In other news they just passed a law in my state that all online sales to sites hosted in this state must pay sales tax. Guess what that will mean? No sites will be hosted in this state.

    • by R2.0 (532027) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @01:16PM (#28505657)

      "...probably the death of Slashdot?"

      The death of the internet, period. Since, according to the Berne Convention and US law, EVERYTHING is copyrighted at the moment of creation, the logical conclusion is that it would ban hyperlinking to anything external to a site. Now more WWW - Thanks Tim, it was fun, hope everything goes well in prison.

      I don't know what to be more embarrassed about - a well respected appeals court judge who is ignorant of the law about which he comments, or the judiciary lobbying for which laws Congress should make, not the laws that they did make. It's not a very bid step to "Well, if Congress doesn't do it, then I will."

    • And every other website that uses external links? Really, if you're making it unlawful to link to material which is accessible without the IP owners permission, then you're effectively asking everyone who posts a link to any content to authenticate it. That's a crazy thing to ask.
    • This isn't just the death of slashdot, it would be the death of the internet itself. No one will be allowed to link to ANY page unless it is owned or operated by the same company without getting express permission. This means that everything grinds to a complete halt because everything written (in the USA at least), IS copyrighted automatically. It might not have a specific copyright on file with the Library of Congress, but it is still copyrighted.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bigbigbison (104532)
      This would mean the death of citations. As he writes it he wants to make someone get permission to paraphrase things. Non-fiction writing draws heavilly on quoting and paraphrasing. If I had to get permission for every single thing I paraphrased for my dissertation I wouldn't be able to finish it since some of the things I'm drawing on are decades and decades old and thanks to our copyright laws are still copyrighted even though the authors are long dead. Do you really think some widow(er), child, or gra
  • Posner (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Raindance (680694) * <johnsonmx@NOsPaM.gmail.com> on Sunday June 28, 2009 @12:19PM (#28505081) Homepage Journal

    While this seems like an opinion that runs counter to many tenants slashdotters hold dear, I think we should at least consider it. By any measure, Posner is one of the most impressive judges on the bench today-- and in my opinion, one of the only judges that really 'get' all the issues surrounding copyright and digital things in general.

    I'm hardly alone-- Lessig has noted that there isn't a federal judge I respect more, both as a judge and person [lessig.org], and Posner was Obama's first choice when asked which sitting judge he would most like to argue before.

    So you may disagree with this opinion-- I'm leaning that way too-- but it's worth fair consideration. Go and actually read his post [becker-posner-blog.com] before passing judgment. When he was guest blogging about copyright law [lessig.org] at Lessig.org back in 2004, he noted, "I am distrustful of people who think they have confident answers to such questions." That goes for both sides in this debate.

    Sort of a hack job by techcrunch actually.

    • Re:Posner (Score:5, Interesting)

      by gum2me (723529) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @12:23PM (#28505145)
      I agree. The TechCrunch post is shrill and doesn't address the central issue that Posner presents: How do you maintain a free press when free-riders can inexpensively and quickly copy and redistribute your original content? He raises a valid point and the TechCrunch completely sidesteps it.
      • by MrMista_B (891430)

        You mean, free-riders like... Slashdot.org?

      • Re:Posner (Score:5, Insightful)

        by causality (777677) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @12:37PM (#28505285)

        I agree. The TechCrunch post is shrill and doesn't address the central issue that Posner presents: How do you maintain a free press when free-riders can inexpensively and quickly copy and redistribute your original content? He raises a valid point and the TechCrunch completely sidesteps it.

        Let's take Slashdot as an example and the notorious Slashdot Effect. One of the most sure ways to really drive a ton of traffic to a Web site is to link an article to Slashdot. Those Web sites almost always have advertisements. How are those news sites not benefitting from this situation, and what part of this is depriving anyone of their fundamental rights so that it would be appropriate for the government to intervene?

      • Re:Posner (Score:5, Insightful)

        by TheRaven64 (641858) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @12:45PM (#28505349) Journal

        How is this a new problem? Anyone can currently 'link to or paraphrase' print material. If I say 'an article in The Economist contained a detailed report on the harm done by Fairtrade Products' in a print magazine then I am linking to (although not in a clickable form) and paraphrasing an article. Both of these are usually seen as fair use. It is completely legal currently for me to produce a newspaper that does no original research and just writes articles based on the investigative journalism of other publications.

        A more important question is how you maintain a free press when you aren't allowed to paraphrase or link to articles from other news outlets.

      • Re:Posner (Score:4, Interesting)

        by QuoteMstr (55051) <dan.colascione@gmail.com> on Sunday June 28, 2009 @01:17PM (#28505669)

        How do you maintain a free press when free-riders can inexpensively and quickly copy and redistribute your original content?

        What makes you think that a free press is incompatible with easy redistribution? Certainly the current newspaper model will need to adapt, but large, established newspapers are not synonymous with a free press.

        In fact, when the Constitution was written, newspapers were more like today's blogs than today's papers: they were small, numerous, often partisan, and of varying quality. If the framers of the constitution thought the press at the time constituted a free press, then we should at least consider the idea that newspapers will need to change.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TeXMaster (593524)
        Making it illegal to redistribute copyrighted content as in making verbatim copies of a text might make sense, but banning _linking_ to copyrighted content is just ridiculous, and so is banning paraphrasing copyrighted content. On the contrary, I would say that it should be _mandatory_ to link to copyrighted content when paraphrasing it ("read the original article _here_").
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by sjames (1099)

          Making it illegal to redistribute copyrighted content as in making verbatim copies of a text might make sense...

          That's already illegal. It has been for a very long time.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by sjames (1099)

        Well, if the way the web works (the way it was designed to work) isn't good for the free press, I guess they shouldn't be posting all their stuff there!

        They are equally free to put it all behind a pay wall and watch as people stay away in droves.

        There's absolutely no reason to change the world to suit their needs, they just need to quit acting against their own interests (if, indeed posting on the web IS against their best interests.

        The web exists so people can post their stuff and have others link to it. T

    • Re:Posner (Score:5, Insightful)

      by causality (777677) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @12:26PM (#28505169)

      "I am distrustful of people who think they have confident answers to such questions." That goes for both sides in this debate.

      I have a confident answer: when in doubt, freedom should prevail. This especially applies to freedom of speech and of the press. The burden of proof is on anyone who thinks that freedom should not prevail. In other words, our fundamental inalienable rights are far more important than whether or not a newspaper goes out of business.

      Let's soundly reject this concept, right now, that it is the role of government to determine who wins and who loses in the business world. Newspapers are struggling because they are old technology that is being replaced by a new technology. Even if that weren't the case, their perceived right to do business is absolutely nothing compared to our real rights.

      • by Raindance (680694) *

        I'm not quite sure what inalienable right you feel would be violated by preventing deep linking. I'm not scoffing at the idea that your rights would be violated-- but I'm saying it's problematic to just claim your rights are being violated. You need to enunciate which rights are being violated.

        Posner's opinion seems not to push the government into determining "who wins and who loses in the business world" so much as explore what the ideal legal state of affairs would be so as to create the most social and e

      • by Raindance (680694) *

        I'm sorry; on my initial reading I glossed over where you detailed you feel this infringes upon your rights of freedom of speech and of the press. I take back my criticism re: enunciating rights.

        I do think the ability to deep link to specific articles, etc, is important for a healthy public debate. I'm not certain linking to someone else's work is completely under the umbrella of speech, however, and would be protected under the speech/press protections.

        • Re:Posner (Score:5, Insightful)

          by QuoteMstr (55051) <dan.colascione@gmail.com> on Sunday June 28, 2009 @01:02PM (#28505533)

          I'm not certain linking to someone else's work is completely under the umbrella of speech

          I am. I think we can agree that "you can find X by going to example.com and clicking the link called foo" is protected speech, yes? If you want to argue that deep-linking is no covered by free speech, then you must show that either:

          1. A URL and the aforementioned sentence are dissimilar
          2. The URL itself it protected speech, but its machine-readable form, the link, is not

          I reject #1 above because any linguistic transformation of protected speech is still protected speech, and can think of no contrary precedent. I reject #2 because I think of no situation in which a machine-readable form of speech is treated differently from the same speech in a different, non-machine-readable fixed medium.

          Now, some very powerful people have argued that sentence #2 should be true, but perceived (or even actual) economic harm is not a justification for abridgment of free speech. The traditionally-recognized exceptions to free speech [csulb.edu] are:

          • Defamation
          • Causing panic
          • Fighting words (an exception seldom used today)
          • Incitement to crime
          • Sedition
          • Obscenity
          • Establishment of religion

          Deep linking is not exempted from being free speech by falling into any of the above categories. Therefore, it is protected speech.

          There is no category called "likely to cause economic harm to a corporation with lobbyists".

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by causality (777677)

          I'm sorry; on my initial reading I glossed over where you detailed you feel this infringes upon your rights of freedom of speech and of the press. I take back my criticism re: enunciating rights.

          That you handle it this way is quite respectable and refreshing to see. No joke and no sarcasm at all when I say thank you.

          I do think the ability to deep link to specific articles, etc, is important for a healthy public debate. I'm not certain linking to someone else's work is completely under the umbrella of spee

      • Re:Posner (Score:4, Insightful)

        by clarkkent09 (1104833) * on Sunday June 28, 2009 @01:26PM (#28505757)
        Let's soundly reject this concept, right now, that it is the role of government to determine who wins and who loses in the business world.

        No, but it is a role of the government to set and enforce the rules of play and the issue here is tweaking those rules. The conflict here is not between newspapers and online media but between those who gather the news and those who copy the news. The problem is not that "newspapers" are going out of business but that the news gathering is going out of business because news copying is eating into its profits to the point where it's not worth it.
    • by dword (735428)

      at Lessig.org back in 2004, he noted, "I am distrustful of people who think they have confident answers to such questions." That goes for both sides in this debate.

      You realize you just quoted him without his consent, right? Lucky you, it's licensed under CCv3 [creativecommons.org]... otherwise he should've torched your ass!

    • Re:Posner (Score:5, Insightful)

      by brxndxn (461473) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @12:58PM (#28505479)

      Why should we consider it? It is a laughable. He is suggesting we change the laws in ways that severely limit individual freedom in a way that is completely impossible to enforce unless we completely change some core fundamental aspects of participation on the Internet. This man could be God for all I care.. If he says something stupid, it is stupid no matter what. We should consider his stupid opinion because he's a great man? That's an error in reasoning. (false authority fallacy)

      Think about this.. He is trying to preserve an industry that is changing because of technology. Just because news as we know it is going through 'evolution pains' does not mean we should stick our stupid laws all over it. Leave our laws be. First Amendment is a pretty damn important law in this country..

      There will ALWAYS be demand for news - and there will always be a demand for truth. By adding new laws that limit the ability to satisfy that demand better, we are actually regressing. Just because the news will change does not mean it will not be better. In fact, I would like to argue that most of our news is completely useless anyway. Let it be free. Let honest people report what they see.. and a group of similar opinions will allow people reading it to distinguish the truth. Right now, if Fox News wants to put their own screwed up twist, they can legally do that.. and they do it all the time! Screw them..

      The newspapers screw the news also.. IMO, right now, there seems to be no good way to get the truth unless you read the news and the bloggers and the comments, and form an opinion of what really happened. So, if you cannot link to an article, how do you comment about it? How do you tell people what you're talking about? Maybe there should not be money in the news.. Let the market figure out how to handle the news.

      And, further, fuck copyright. The laws make the copyright holders so card-stacked against the individual that people care less and less about it and the laws governing it.

    • Re:Posner (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Kjella (173770) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @01:02PM (#28505523) Homepage

      His argument sounds reasonable on the economic side, because he's hardly the only one wondering what'll happen to investigative journalism. You can see it with planted stories, one online site reports something and it grows exponentially so hundreds of sites and blogs and whatnot paraphrase it and then you got google news pointing you to hundred rehashes of that article. If that's a deep story you've spent plenty money to unfold, it's really hard to recover your costs.

      However, from a logical point I don't see it possible - should they then get an exclusive right to that news, like a patent? You really want Fox News to report something, but noone else can present the story with a different twist? What about other media following up on a case reporting 90% the same but with 10% additional content? This would be nothing but legal hell to figure out what news are "your" news and not. All this could do is create media cartels of people not suing each other over their respective news, which would be even worse than all the other alternatives.

    • Why, Just Because! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by FranTaylor (164577) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @01:24PM (#28505731)

      So you don't have any justification for your position other than "he's cool"?

      You are willing to cast your own opinion aside in favor of one that clearly goes against the intent and the letter of the law, just because you like him?

      Okay so I read his post. He is making economic arguments over whether or not we have a right.

      Since when are judges supposed to use economic arguments to decide whether or not we have a right?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Sorry, but even geniuses have their weak moments. This is quite clearly a crazy idea. It might solve the particular problems he was addressing, but it would also clearly cause so many more, that it is simply not worth considering.
    • Re:Posner (Score:5, Interesting)

      by xigxag (167441) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @02:44PM (#28506403)

      Regardless of his Lessig-credentials, the fact is that his point is poorly thought out, for at least three reasons.

      1) Newspapers are voluntarily on the internet because they feel that an online presence is important to them. If, say, the New York Times doesn't like having aggregators leech off its content, it could easily shut down its website, end of story. Then its content would be available only in print. I wonder why the Times doesn't do that. Or, less sarcastically/rhetorically, if Posner has given thought as to why the Times doesn't do that. (And less extreme measures could be taken, such as making the site only available through the main page, making it subscription only, and so on. The issue is still the same, purely technological remedies can be taken, but in most cases they aren't, for the simple reason that no newspaper wants to be consigned to the dustbin of history, so to speak.)

      2) How is this law supposed to affect those outside of the US? Is Posner's idea merely to cripple the US internet, or does he somehow think he can stop citizens in other nations from linking to US sites? Or maybe that's OK in his estimation, since US papers don't derive substantial revenue from foreign readers. In which case, we'll have a curious sort of situation where US web users will be linking to foreign papers to discuss them and vice-versa. Either way, this won't stop people from going to the internet for news, it will just slow things down a bit

      3) One of the largest reasons newspapers are losing revenue is because they've lost the classified ad wars with Craigslist. That situation won't change by shutting down Google.

      4) As long as we're throwing out absurd ideas willy-nilly, how about this? Make the sales of offline print advertising tax-free. That will have the effect of subsidizing the struggling newspaper industry without the government directly involving itself in the fourth estate.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Culture20 (968837)

      I think we should at least consider it. By any measure, Posner is one of the most impressive judges on the bench today-- and in my opinion, one of the only judges that really 'get' all the issues surrounding copyright and digital things in general.

      If he's the one Judge who stands above all others in technical matters, then I want all Judges to go through five years of mandatory Computer Science courses. He's a #*%$^&#ing idiot. Posner, you're #*%%#@ stupid. You may be a legal genius, but please rely on technical advisors before thinking you know anything about technology.
      Linking to something on the web is the exact equivalent to saying "Hey, look at that over there!" in meatspace. If people want to prevent someone from pointing at their FOO i

  • He's wrong (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Sunday June 28, 2009 @12:23PM (#28505139)

    While it might be the death of "Big Media", it will be the birth of "lite media" which consists of the blogosphere, twitter, and Facebook. When the incentive to compile news is financial, we will only get news that is sensational and designed to be sticky. However, when that incentive is removed, we will be able to see a rapid advance in news gathering for its own sake. Such an evolution in news gathering is a huge breakthrough for the little guy who prior to this would never have had his voice heard.

    Old Media is shaking in their boots at the thought of being overrun by so-called "unqualified bloggers". Take the recent election, for example. While many people tuned in to CNN and the NY Times for information, many more relied on Little Green Footballs, the Huffington Post, and the Daily Kos for up to the minute election data. As more little guys enter the market, we will finally see real competition. Since competition leads to improved product, we can only expect to see better news once the corporations like NY Times and CNN wither away.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by causality (777677)

      While it might be the death of "Big Media", it will be the birth of "lite media" which consists of the blogosphere, twitter, and Facebook. When the incentive to compile news is financial, we will only get news that is sensational and designed to be sticky. However, when that incentive is removed, we will be able to see a rapid advance in news gathering for its own sake. Such an evolution in news gathering is a huge breakthrough for the little guy who prior to this would never have had his voice heard.

      Indee

    • by FooAtWFU (699187)

      When the incentive to compile news is financial, we will only get news that is sensational and designed to be sticky. However, when that incentive is removed, we will be able to see a rapid advance in news gathering for its own sake.

      I disagree with this specific sentiment. When the incentive to compile news is no longer financial, I think there will be two groups of news-gatherers who will make it big: news-gatherers who are paid by people who want to manipulate the news and public opinion (which will reki

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by causality (777677)

        Have you visited many community news gathering/reporting sites recently? Can you name two of them which stand out as cool, neutral reporters of what happens in the world?

        We don't have those right now with mainstream sources. What we have is an image, usually enhanced by leggy blondes with large breasts. Now, I'm all for leggy blondes with large breasts, but don't pretend that this makes the news any more accurate.

        My point is that we really don't have the neutral, scientifically skeptical, disintereste

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by QuoteMstr (55051)

          They are careful to make sure that whatever they report is factually accurate, yes. The techniques of modern propaganda are far more sophisticated than telling provably false lies. The biggest problem with the mainstream news is that they selectively omit information that doesn't suit a rather statist agenda.

          It's important to remember that news sources don't consciously censor information. The establishment (I much prefer that word to "statist", because I'm a statist) bias in reporting is a structural issue

    • It would mean the death of all media online, because anything an author doesn't explicitly waive his rights to is under his copyright! Such a law would render linking to anything that wasn't under a free licence completely illegal. That a judge could be so cosmically ignorant of the law to not realise this is diabolical.

  • Enforcement? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by GammaStream (1472247) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @12:25PM (#28505159)
    If a search engine is located in another country, how do you stop it linking to your copyright material? Fines that they won't pay? Extradition? Blocking their site?
  • I can see how he thinks banning paraphrasing might help the newspaper industry. A huge number of high profile blogs are guilty of basically ripping the content off the original source and providing a tiny link on the bottom citing their source. I would agree that is unfair to the people that originally reported the story. The linking part makes no sense however. Reuters and the AP want people linking to content on their site, it's one of main ways they get traffic. Unless the anchor text of the link is on
  • The United States is fully capable of shooting off its own leg to save a toenail. There are men with real power in the country who would happily pull the plug on the entire Internet tomorrow if it would save their margins on Marley & Me 2.

  • by seekret (1552571) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @12:32PM (#28505225)
    I wanted to write that paper about the current affairs of the political system but I can't give you any sources since it's illegal to link to copyrited material...the new my dog ate my homework.
  • by javacowboy (222023) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @12:36PM (#28505263)

    Newspapers want to have their cake and eat it too. They want the traffic that comes from Google linking to them, but they want sole access to the internet advertising revenues associated with their content.

    Also, how does the judge propose helping the newspapers fend off online classified services like craigslist, which are the real threat to newspapers.

    With this judgment, one of two things will happen:

    1) Google stops linking to them entirely and their online business dries up.
    2) All or most newspapers grant Google the right to link to and show excerpts of their stories.

    Either way, the newspapers won't see a revival. Their only hope is to set up some kind of common online newspaper portal to take the place of Google news. Except, this time, there isn't the equivalent of Apple's iTunes to save them from their own stupidity.

  • Interpretation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @12:38PM (#28505297)

    Isn't the community consensus that every publicly accessible URL points to content that the community is free to link to and view at will?

    That is: if you post a document on a web server, then you're granting the whole world the same rights to the material that you would be if you posted that material on a billboard sign next to the highway.

    Why can't judges see that?

    Why do some judges assume that the common understanding of a URL needs to change, rather than just having the newspapers stop supporting publicly accessible URLs to content they want protected???

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dword (735428)

      This has been discussed on /. over and over again: if you don't want to make it public, don't publish it. Especially on the web. "Hey, look at what I did! It's a sign in the middle of the street, but don't tell anyone else about it or I'll sue you."

  • So sad (Score:2, Insightful)

    by woboyle (1044168)
    It is so sad that someone who is so clueless is in such an influential position, and for life no less! Anybody else in favor of term limits for federal judgeships?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      The part that frightens me more is that this 'judge' thinks his opinion in what laws should be enacted is more important than anybody elses. It's almost like he thinks his job is to legislate from the bench.

      Get in line, Your Honor. You can lobby your Senator to get said 'law' passed just like the rest of us.

  • Turn off the internet, and make it illegal to receive any news that isn't officially state mandated, state protected, state owned, and state run.

    Even that won't give this judge what he wants, because people would still be able to use pencils, pens, or other mark making tools to do such things as 'paraphrase' news sources.

    This judge is an idiot, and because he has power, he is a dangerous idiot. He should be removed for the safety of the American people in particular, and the safety of the internet in genera

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 28, 2009 @12:46PM (#28505357)
    Old man yells at cloud [globalnerdy.com].
  • By default all material is copyrighted.

    Basically it is about going back to what they are used to do in the past.
    Newspapers bought their content from companies like Reuters, so they would love to continue to do so and 'own' the news. Do not forget that a newspapers, like television, now is a way of selling advertisement space. The public is not the customer, the advertisers are.

  • Well, boo-hoo. Nobody forced newspapers to put their content online. It sure is convenient for us readers, but if they were not prepared to deal with what is happening now, then they should just pull out and go to just print or subscription only. Let's see how well that will fare. Will they want people writing about their stories banned?

    The Internet's whole point is copying and sharing information, and if you don't want to share your content or cannot afford to, then don't freaking put it there.

  • For people who still don't get that monopolies are always created by government coercion, here might be one fresh in the getting of yet another privilege.
  • Thats unpossible (Score:3, Informative)

    by RichMan (8097) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @12:53PM (#28505419)

    - without destroying the net
    a) everything written essentially has creator copyright
    b) making a link to anything else would then be violation

    - internet assumption
    a) if it is on the net you can link to it
          this follows from the basic structure of the net as addressable content

    If someone does not want a link made they had better not put it on the internet. Putting it on the internet essentially means permission to link.

  • by jernejk (984031) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @12:53PM (#28505421)
    Banning links to web content is the same as banning references in off-line world, which is of course, idiotic. On the other side, caching and aggregating pages without permission from original author/publisher is a whole different matter.
  • Library card catalog (Score:5, Interesting)

    by peektwice (726616) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @12:54PM (#28505431)
    I'm pretty sure that this also means the end of the Dewey Decimal system, since it links to copyrighted material.
  • So the print media thinks that they'll benefit from the loss of the digital equivalent of word-of-mouth advertising? Isn't becoming invisible the last thing you want your website to do?

    That's insane but we should let them have it. Any company who understands the internet will modify their copyright license terms to circumvent this ridiculousness and any company that doesn't just has to search for referrer=anything-at-all and deny everyone from viewing their content unless they actually bookmarked or manuall

  • Providing no one ever has a new idea, the judge just might be right. In the real world however, if there is a need for an independent news service, it will pop up all on it's own. That is the nature of the internet, someone is always trying something new and when a need arises or an opportunity develops, there are 8 billion people in the world that can offer a solution. One of them is bound to have a good idea!
  • by Arancaytar (966377) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Sunday June 28, 2009 @01:04PM (#28505547) Homepage

    In the quote, the only real "WTF" part is the mention of hyperlinks. It's unrelated to the concept being discussed, and it is obviously false that a hyperlink from site A to site B represents any cost (let alone unpaid) to site B. Rather, it is an almost unilateral gift from site A to site B.

    Naturally, I also disagree about the main concept, which essentially calls Fair Use economically untenable. But that is an actual matter for debate, rather than the hyperlink stuff, which is self-evidently contradictory. From looking at Posner's works and credentials, I'd be hesitant to label him "stupid about technology". Maybe it was just a verbal slip?

  • Outrageous (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Eravnrekaree (467752) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @01:19PM (#28505689)

    While there may be a credible argument that internet via craigslist, et al, have been eating away at newspaper revenue, this claim that deep linking is a big problem I think is really absurd. If anything, deep linking, improves advertiser exposure as users click on a link to be transported to a newspapers website. The benefit and ad exposure to the newspaper is quite the same as if the user had entered the article from the newspapers own main index page. This just seems to be an Orwellian attempt to censor the internet and expand tyranical powers. If a newspaper were really concerned about the financial issues, maybe they should provide some premium online subscription option and password protect their content. THe idea of banning linking is totally unnecessary, since the newspapers if they wished could password protect, and in fact, unconstitutional violation of free speech, similar to banning citations in written material.

    I would also suggest that, a solution best for all users is allow for an alliance or cooperative of newspapers nationally, a recipricol agreement between them that when one purchases a subscription to the local newspaper, they also get access to other newspapers around the country as well. This preserves the benefits of the internet to be able to access information easily coming from everywhere, and makes it affordable, given the thousands of news sources, its impossible to subscribe to each one. There can be 'low income' and 'consumer' plans which are targeted at the affordability in the consumer market.

  • by blcamp (211756) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @01:24PM (#28505735) Homepage

    Am I reading this correctly?

    Don't link (or provide a reference) to something, simply because it's copyrighted material?

    I see... so what's next? How about: don't recommend a book, since that's a verbal or printed "link"? Don't point to a painting? Don't share a photo? Don't let someone read a newspaper you're finished with? Don't play a CD in the car?

    Ban all libraries?

    I don't care that this guy is a judge. I don't care about any so-called "legal" angle to this... this is plain and simple common sense that's being defied here.

  • Unsearchable news (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SEWilco (27983) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @02:27PM (#28506253) Journal
    The obvious effect of no linking to newspaper sites (or other original material) is that Google page ranking will fall through the floor for such sites. The news web sites might allow Googlebot to search the site and index the material, but there won't be other sites linking to the newspaper sites and Google won't be able to use the amount of linking to judge the importance of the sites. Any sites which grant permission for everyone to link to them will soar in page ranking. Many blogs are likely to have higher link-based rankings than newspaper sites. Yes, Google will rank through other means as well, but restrictive sites will lose the indexing ability of the rest of web authors.
  • by lpq (583377) on Monday June 29, 2009 @03:12AM (#28511179) Homepage Journal

    Websites are billboards that are designed to be looked at.

    Any website that wants to prevent anyone from linking to their 'content' can simply install a "door" with a "lock" (a password" to protect the content).

    If you don't want someone to look at your website or your billboard, then you don't create it open to view from passersby...

    This idiocy won't get off the ground.

    Capitalism isn't suited to a non-scarcity based economy -- since the only way capitalism can continue to work is to induce artificial scarcities where there really are none.

    The only way to do that is to create laws restricting access to access to things people already take for granted and already have access to. It'll be like
    the war on drugs, except that it will be every "Intellectual Property" -- and on a scale 10x as large.

    The big loser -- will be the parasites who profit off of 'free information' being sold again and again -- getting rich and depleting the worlds resources and capital -- lowering standards of living and lowering productivity, and lowering overall progress needed for humans to survive and prosper into the next millennium. Without drastic attitude changes in people 'in power', there will be no humans next millennium, or humans will have devolved to tribal status and be subject/victim to whatever natural disaster comes along -- resulting in our eventual extinction.

    If we don't solve the energy crunch issue -- and don't "free up wealth" the concept of 'wealth', and don't raise up the humanity, as a whole, we are dead. Unfortunately, no one living to day really cares much about life after their death (or their children's death). It's already the case, in the US, that the standard of living for the current generation is on track to decline from the previous generation -- and further declines are expected after that. Unless we create large, new, amounts of raw resources, we don't have anything even close to what is necessary in this world to support a standard of living even half that of what exists in the US.

    Globalization-> leads to lower standard of living for top inventors and will limit technological growth as "high tech" knowledge becomes a 'luxury' -- we'll be stuck at the "using up resources" phase -- in a non-renewable, non-sustainable way -- until massive shortages destroy our civilization. At current rates of consumption against known reserves some materials will run out this century. Some within the next decade.

    We are going downhill as a species -- because we are all like the lobsters you put in a barrel -- they will keep pulling down the ones that are almost about to escape, so that all are trapped and all die. That's us and our current morality/mindset.

    Only a new religion of humanity, of caring and reducing suffering among all feeling creatures now and for all time in the future (no taking now at expense of the future), will we turns things around.

    I believe that only a religion of sacrifice will bring the commitment necessary for our species to grow beyond our current condition and have the possibility of surviving by growing beyond this planet. A religion could inspire the passion necessary for the sacrifices and changes necessary -- and a religion could spread...but I don't know of any other form of human institution or system that could bring about the changes necessary.

    Most certainly religions that focus on 'afterlife' and letting things slide in this life-time for reward in the next life are certainly an anathema to the survival of the species and should be, as enemies of humanity -- seen as pure and destructive evil, now matter how much they cloak themselves with good works or words of faith and belief.

    linda

  • Richard Posner (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hey! (33014) on Monday June 29, 2009 @06:22AM (#28512209) Homepage Journal

    Richard Posner is an interesting guy; the kind of guy who'd be great on a law school faculty but who's a little scary on the bench. He thinks outside the box and is not afraid of taking positions most people think are wrong.

    I've come across his name in reading about privacy. Posner is famous for opposing the concept of right of privacy. "Is there a right of privacy?" is the kind of question somebody should ask; having people seriously examine this question is good for society. Having people on the bench who don't believe there is a right to privacy is a different matter.

    So he's not the kind of person who would balk from turning things upside down if he had an internally consistent theory that supported it. Not an activist judge, but something much worse: a philosopher judge.

  • Ironically... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Archtech (159117) on Monday June 29, 2009 @08:43AM (#28513311)

    ...if linking to copyrighted material were made illegal, I would *stop* reading newspaper articles. I only ever see those to which I link through Google News.

    As usual, the judge has got it backwards. Linking is what the Web is all about. If your copyrighted material is so precious you don't want anyone linking to it, your remedy is perfectly simple. Don't post it on the Web.

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