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Quentin Tarantino Vs. Gawker: When Is Linking Illegal For Journalists? 166

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Jon Healey writes in the LA Times that a new lawsuit against the Gawker Media site Defamer for linking to an infringing copy of an unreleased screenplay should send chills down the spines of every reporter who writes about copyright issues. Tarantino had kept the script for his ensemble western The Hateful Eight unpublished, but someone obtained a copy and posted it online. In its piece, Defamer quoted only a brief excerpt and a short summary published earlier that day by the Wrap. But it also included two links to the leaked screenplay on a file-sharing site called AnonFiles. In a complaint filed in federal court in Los Angeles, Tarantino's lawyers say they repeatedly asked Gawker Media to remove the links, to no avail. John Cook, Gawker's editor, responded with a post that rebuts the complaint's most damaging allegations, saying Defamer had no involvement whatsoever in the leak or the script's posting online. Cook also quotes Tarantino's comments last week to Deadline Hollywood, in which the filmmaker said he likes having his work online for people to read and review. 'Reporters often assume that providing links to items of public interest is perfectly aboveboard, even if the items themselves aren't. If this case goes to trial, it could help clarify what links simply can't be published legally, regardless of the news value,' writes Healey. 'I'm not arguing that what Gawker did was legal — that's a judge's decision. I'm just saying that there's a journalistic reason for Gawker to do what it did, and those of us who write about copyrights struggle often with the question of how to report what seems newsworthy without crossing a line that's drawn case by case.'"
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Quentin Tarantino Vs. Gawker: When Is Linking Illegal For Journalists?

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  • by QuasiSteve ( 2042606 ) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @07:52PM (#46095897)

    The Dutch 'populist weblog' GeenStijl faced a similar suit from the Dutch edition of Playboy magazine.

    They had linked to an archive that contained leaked pictures of a yet-to-be-published issue, and Playboy initially won in a lower court which sided with them on the suggestion that said linking was effectively publishing,

    GeenStijl appealed, and a higher court found that since Playboy could not prove that the link was absolutely private, GeenStijl could not be seen as the the publishers.
    ( GeenStijl still had to pay a fine because the judge found that just mentioning it would have sufficed for the purposes of press, and posting a part of one of the images breached copyright. )

    This leaves the door open for any news organization (or tabloid magazine) to upload things anonymously, then link to it, and claim innocence. On the up side, it means that you can still link to things and not get sued for it on the basis that you would be seen as the publishing party. In the U.S. there's still the DMCA to contend with, of course.

  • Re:Tarantino effect (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @08:09PM (#46095993)

    Problem here is that Tarantino said he wouldn't make the movie since it leaked from some actor's agent, and that now that it was out, he didn't mind people reading it. So the movie has been reduced to a script, permanently, unless Tarantino changes his mind which seems unlikely.

  • by minstrelmike ( 1602771 ) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @08:49PM (#46096225)

    who started this idea that a hyperlink is infringement?

    The print media. I believe Time or some similar magazine wanted users to actually visit _their_ site without a wrap around banner from some other aggregating site. (Time has a specific look and feel and red border that is supposed to go with every story).
    Those were the first court cases, providing pop-up links to a story that displayed in your own company's ad-banner window were judged illegal. Of course, that's got nothing to do with Quentin's issue except for the word "hyperlink" so of course it rules the roost as far as the legal community is concerned.

  • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @10:49PM (#46096897) Journal

    You've got it backwards. DMCA applies very much to content added by the webmaster. DMCA specifies how a web hosting company ought to respond to complaints of copyright infringement in their servers / datacenter. Some sites with user-generated content have argued that they are effectively hosting the user content.

    If the web host follows the procedure, they are immune from claims of contributory infringement and the like. The process is:

    Copyright owner sends a sworn notice to the host, specifying exactly which content is theirs (infringing).

    Web host chchecks that the NOTICE complies with the law - it's properly signed, etc.

    Web host informs the webmaster and temporarily blocks the content.

    The webmaster may reply saying it's not infringing.
    DMCA specifies this counter-notice should be signed, etc.

    Web host puts the content back upon receipt of proper counter-notice.

    Copyright owner could sue in federal court to try to get it taken down again.

    Webmaster can sue if the original notice is bogus.

    Unfortunately, many people aren't well informed about the counter notice and their right to sue someone who files a bogus notice.

    Note that the web host does not make any judgement as to whether the claim is valid. They have no discretion about taking it down temporarily and putting it back up when they receive a notice under DMCA. Their only decision is whether or not they've actually received a DMCA notice. For example, "Slashdot stole my shit" is not a notice under DMCA. A good friend of mine, and long time customer, won a suit on the basis that the alleged DMCA notice was not in fact a proper notice under DMCA because it didn't specify exactly what was claimed to be infringing.

  • Re:Let's all discuss (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @12:24AM (#46097305)

    Tarantino films are almost always extremely shallow with little to no interesting social commentary. Fans of his like to pretend there's depth because of the overuse of banal references to pop culture. The primary difference between him and Michael Bay is that Bay knows he's making fun, yet ultimately dumb, movies.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @06:28AM (#46098439)

    TL;DR The hacker magazine 2600 was prohibited from posting links to sites that hosted code for DeCSS, decrypting DVDs. The prohibition was upheld on appeal.

    'The Court's injunction barred the Defendants from: "posting on any Internet web site" DeCSS; "in any other way . . . offering to the public, providing, or otherwise trafficking in DeCSS"; violating the anti-trafficking provisions of the DMCA in any other manner, and finally "knowingly linking any Internet web site operated by them to any other web site containing DeCSS, or knowingly maintaining any such link, for the purpose of disseminating DeCSS." Universal II, 111 F. Supp. 2d at 346-47.'

Today is a good day for information-gathering. Read someone else's mail file.