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  1. #1
    SitePoint Addict hitmanuk2k's Avatar
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    Linking to material which they claim is 'copyrighted'

    Hello,

    Once again my website has been sent a notice to remove links to some content. The files in question are hosted with rapidshare, filefront or other. No files are hosted on our servers.

    Basically, the files are game saves for Pro Evolution Soccer 2008. The saves include edited team names and kits (editing using the tools made available within the game it's self... no external tools required) of the Premier League sides. The Premier League are not licensed in PES 2008 and as such off the shelf the game does not have realistic looking kits or team names. By using the in-game editor, people update the kits/names and then publish their own game saves for others to make use of, to save them editing the kits themselves.

    The Premier League this week sent me documents asking to remove the links to the game saves from our forum/website. But am I actually doing anything wrong by linking to game saves? If the edited data was made using external tools and required illegal modding of game machines I could see the legalities... but surely material which can be freely edited by anyone within the game can't be illegal?
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  2. #2
    SitePoint Addict ruby-lang's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hitmanuk2k View Post
    If the edited data was made using external tools and required illegal modding of game machines I could see the legalities... but surely material which can be freely edited by anyone within the game can't be illegal?
    This is a very weak argument. Trademark infringement doesn't depend on the tools used, be they Pro Evolution Soccer editors, MS Word, or an automatic sewing machine. (they must be alleging trademark infringement, since copyright laws don't protect names)

    Quote Originally Posted by hitmanuk2k View Post
    Once again my website has been sent a notice to remove links to some content. The files in question are hosted with rapidshare, filefront or other. No files are hosted on our servers.
    I'm not sure how European IP laws work, but this looks like a much stronger argument. At least it worked for PirateBay against truly ferocious attacks.

  3. #3
    Programming Since 1978 silver trophybronze trophy felgall's Avatar
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    Linking to copyright content isn't illegal since 99.999% of the links on the web are exactly that.

    If a site owner doesn't want you linking to their content then they can ask you to remove your link. It doesn't make sense to retain the link in that instance since they can always modify their site to block access when the referred is your site.

    As far as your linking to third party hosted content is concerned, if they have a problem with the content being a breach of copyright or trademarks or whatever then they need to take it up with the owner of the hosting site and not the owners of sites that simply link to it.
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  4. #4
    SitePoint Addict hitmanuk2k's Avatar
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    Could someone clarify the difference between Trademark and Copyright infringement?

    Just so you know, the Premier League told me in the letter I was sent they would be pursuing compensation if the files were not removed. They said they would be doing this on Tuesday 13th November (due to holiday, I didn't actually read the documents they sent until last Friday). I have heard nothing since.
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    Quote Originally Posted by felgall View Post
    Linking to copyright content isn't illegal since 99.999% of the links on the web are exactly that.

    If a site owner doesn't want you linking to their content then they can ask you to remove your link. It doesn't make sense to retain the link in that instance since they can always modify their site to block access when the referred is your site.
    I'm not quite sure I get what you're saying, but I do know that sites do not need permission to link to other sites. If it's illegal material, then I think they need to take it up with the host, as you said.
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  6. #6
    SitePoint Addict ruby-lang's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hitmanuk2k View Post
    Could someone clarify the difference between Trademark and Copyright infringement?
    I'm a layman, so these won't be the official definitions, but copyright is the right of an author to control who copies and distributes his work. Movies, books, music, anything that is authored is protected by copyright. Trademark is the protection of a brand. It's the right to say who can show your brand and logo, and where.

    Quote Originally Posted by hitmanuk2k View Post
    Just so you know, the Premier League told me in the letter I was sent they would be pursuing compensation if the files were not removed. They said they would be doing this on Tuesday 13th November (due to holiday, I didn't actually read the documents they sent until last Friday). I have heard nothing since.
    If you do hear from them again, you should contact a lawyer, but as felgall said, the ones to worry about it are the file download hosts. The league's lawyers were probably trying to scare you and other site owners to "contain the damage" before they take the offending content down. I'm sure it works for a lot of people.

  7. #7
    SitePoint Addict BlazeMiskulin's Avatar
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    To the best of my knowledge, the only time that you could be in trouble for linking to something is if you're "deep linking". This is where you link to a file rather than a page, and in doing so, bypass content such as advertising, thereby depriving the site which hosts the files of income.

    This does not, at all, sound like the situation you're describing. You're linking to user/fan-generated files which are being offered on a stand-alone basis.

    It sounds to me like the league is going overboard with regards to their trademarks (they certainly have the kits trademarked, copyrights on the files is open to quite a bit of interpretation) and simply trying to intimidate you. Unfortunately, this has become a very common tactic.

    If you have an attorney on retainer, I would certainly suggest running this past him. If not, I would suggest doing some simple research regarding the laws and precedents in your jurisdiction regarding linking to copyrighted/trademarked material. I'm not sure if the Electronic Frontier Foundation operates in the UK, but if they do, that might be a good place to start. Your solution just might be as simple as replying to the C&D request with a citation of a legal precedent: "According to Smythe v. The Intarwebs, a person may link to any site or file presented on a publicly-accessible URL so long as said linking does not blatantly and significantly deprive the hosting site of bazillions of pounds sterling in daily advertising revenue."
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  8. #8
    SitePoint Guru El Camino's Avatar
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    Are you linking to the content or is it embedded and visible on your site?

  9. #9
    SitePoint Addict hitmanuk2k's Avatar
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    Basically guys if you take a look at this area on my forum http://www.pesgaming.com/forumdisplay.php?f=267 you will see other people (not myself) posting up 'Option Files' (which are game saves for PES 2008). All of the files are linked to in the threads on the forum, they are not saved as attachments on my own server. I have now included a message stating we are not associated with the Premier League.

    I had been posting news on my blog www.pesgaming.com/blog/ with regards new option files, but I have decided to stop doing this.

    Just a little something they concluded with in their documents...

    The result of anyone utilising the download is to give the impression that the PL and/or the clubs have licensed PES 2008. Indeed, that is its very point (Not true). Such confusion is therefore likely to cause damage to the Clubs' business activities (WHAT!?)
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by hitmanuk2k View Post
    Basically guys if you take a look at this area on my forum http://www.pesgaming.com/forumdisplay.php?f=267 you will see other people (not myself) posting up 'Option Files' (which are game saves for PES 2008). All of the files are linked to in the threads on the forum, they are not saved as attachments on my own server. I have now included a message stating we are not associated with the Premier League.
    It really doesn't matter if it's you or your members posting up links to these files. It is your site and you are responsible for what goes on within it. If you are notified that your site is encouraging infringement of some description, it's really advisable to do something about it. The fact that these files are hosted elsewhere is neither here nor there IMO - you have been informed by the relevant licensees that you are (in their opinion) engaging in infringement and you really need to do something about it.

    If you feel it's not infringement, then that's fine, do nothing. Otherwise, I'd suggest you contact a lawyer and perhaps also remove the links until you get confirmation that you are in the clear by linking to them. Do you really want to mess with the PL? I would imagine they have a rather large legal expense budget and seriously doubt they would bother with you unless they had some grounds behind their argument. Just look at how aggressive they are with regard to forums posting up league fixtures.

  11. #11
    SitePoint Addict BlazeMiskulin's Avatar
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    Just a clarification to make sure I have this all right in my mind.

    There's a game that includes a tool that allows the user to create teams that look like professional football teams in the UK.

    Players are using this tool to make teams that look like members of this league, and making them available to others.

    The league is angry about this.


    So basically... the league is going out of its way to hunt down and (legally) attack fans who want to pretend that they're part of their favorite team while playing a video game in their living room.

    God forbid the fans show loyalty for their favorite team and encourage others to do the same.

    The concept of intellectual property has gotten to the point that it's a humorless parody of itself.
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  12. #12
    SitePoint Addict hitmanuk2k's Avatar
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    Yes Blaze, that pretty much sums up what happens. The teams are not accurately presented in the game off the shelf, so using the editing tools available within the game (which allows gamers to change team names, kit colours etc) people modify the teams to look realistic to make the game more enjoyable and life-like. They then make available their game saves which contain the updated team data.
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  13. #13
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    I think shadowbox is right. No matter what you think about the company if they have a copyright they can take you to court over it. You do control your site and the links on it so i would take them down until you talk to a lawyer.

  14. #14
    SitePoint Addict hitmanuk2k's Avatar
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    I've taken them off the homepage already. I simply can't remove every link on the forum there will probably be 1000's of these files... Even if I did remove them, people would just go elsewhere and continue sharing the files. So at the end of the day, all that happens is my site ends up dead as a dodo and someone else benefits.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by hitmanuk2k View Post
    I've taken them off the homepage already. I simply can't remove every link on the forum there will probably be 1000's of these files... Even if I did remove them, people would just go elsewhere and continue sharing the files. So at the end of the day, all that happens is my site ends up dead as a dodo and someone else benefits.
    If you feel it is necessary to remove the links, then you'll need to remove all of them - it shouldn't be too hard with a little SQL, or even use the swear filter to remove certain links.

    It really doesn't matter if people go somewhere else to share the files, that's not your concern. What does matter is that you are currently profiting from it happening on your site (i.e. you run ads etc - and you are admitting that this type of traffic is essential to the running of your site). I personally think the PL are going too far on this one, but that's just my personal opinion - it's for a judge to decide if they are acting legally.

  16. #16
    O Rly?? JakeJeck's Avatar
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    Are the links indexed in google at all? Tell them to go after google - they have much more money than you.

    Anyway, I don't think I've ever heard of anyone being successfully sued for having links on their site and I've been around a long time.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by JakeJeck View Post
    Anyway, I don't think I've ever heard of anyone being successfully sued for having links on their site and I've been around a long time.
    That depends on what exactly is the issue and the jurisdiction:

    http://www.theinquirer.net/en/inquir...d-get-you-sued

    http://www.out-law.com/default.aspx?page=2749

    http://www.out-law.com/default.aspx?page=8568

    http://www.out-law.com/default.aspx?page=7686

  18. #18
    O Rly?? JakeJeck's Avatar
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    The bottom part of that last article is funny. Ticketmaster trying to sue tickets.com for linking to tickets on TM's site back in 2000. Gee free links and free revenue - I bet they wouldn't have a problem with that today.

    Edit - oh and it looks like the OP could be screwed since he's in the UK.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by hitmanuk2k View Post
    Hello,

    Once again my website has been sent a notice to remove links to some content. The files in question are hosted with rapidshare, filefront or other. No files are hosted on our servers.

    Basically, the files are game saves for Pro Evolution Soccer 2008. The saves include edited team names and kits (editing using the tools made available within the game it's self... no external tools required) of the Premier League sides. The Premier League are not licensed in PES 2008 and as such off the shelf the game does not have realistic looking kits or team names. By using the in-game editor, people update the kits/names and then publish their own game saves for others to make use of, to save them editing the kits themselves.

    The Premier League this week sent me documents asking to remove the links to the game saves from our forum/website. But am I actually doing anything wrong by linking to game saves? If the edited data was made using external tools and required illegal modding of game machines I could see the legalities... but surely material which can be freely edited by anyone within the game can't be illegal?
    You answered your own statement in your first paragraph.

    The publishers of Pro Evolution Soccer have not licensed the rights to use Premier League rights, ie strip colours, strip likenesses, even player names are licensed to the FA and the Premier League unless specifically allowed. The publishers of Pro Evolution Soccer have not paid the fee, and you as a fairly insignificant fart on the carbuncle of licensing laws are being abused.

    It doesn't matter how insignificant you think you are, you have broken UK law, and its easier for them to build momentum by targeting lots of little guys like you than challenging the US based games networks.

  20. #20
    SitePoint Addict hitmanuk2k's Avatar
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    In what way have I personally broken the Law? I have not created or personally published any files. Even the official UK Playstation forum has links to these Option Files which are on Rapidshare/megaupload.

    http://community.eu.playstation.com/...d.php?t=157708
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  21. #21
    Follow Me On Twitter: @djg gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Grossman's Avatar
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    In the US, rulings are moving towards making this type of situation explicitly illegal... linking to content which infringes copyrights as facilitating the infringement. It wouldn't be unprecedented for you to lose a case here despite only linking out to the files on Rapidshare/etc. I don't know what direction copyright law is moving in England.

  22. #22
    SitePoint Addict hitmanuk2k's Avatar
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    Well I've removed the stuff long since from the homepage. The forum is still open - I can't exactly close it otherwise I may as well just close the site since it's a community.
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