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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 Tarantino had kept the script for his ensemble western The Hateful Eight unpublished, but someone obtained a copy and posted it online.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 c5402dc53929211e1efb ( 3084201 ) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @07:30PM (#46095769)

    who started this idea that a hyperlink is infringement?

  • by bazmail ( 764941 ) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @07:31PM (#46095787)
    when it's illegal for everyone else. presumably. there is no special law for journalists. very few journalists kicked up a fuss when Joe public was losing his house because hr linked to copyrighted material. but now that one of their own is in the firing line its a big deal? fuck journalists. where were they when the content mafia took over the nation?
  • by tysonedwards ( 969693 ) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @07:32PM (#46095793)
    No one. The current argument is that a hyperlink to infringing work "advocates infringement".
  • I'll go grab a copy.

    Linking is not a crime, download is not a crime. Distributing without authorization is a crime. Find the people who leaked it, there at fault.

    That said; I wonder how many scenes contain close ups of feet?

  • by nick_davison ( 217681 ) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @07:42PM (#46095847)

    Tarantino's lawyers are arguing that it wasn't available online - until Gawker offered to pay anyone who leaked a copy.

    It's not illegal to report a murder. It is illegal to say, "I'll pay $10,000 for the exclusive story for the person who kills my wife."

    IANAL and I've no idea whether that analogy holds true for copyright but it's apparently the angle Tarantino's lawyers are pursuing - that it's not the linking so much as the linking to an act they solicited.

  • by fermion ( 181285 ) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @08:15PM (#46096027) Homepage Journal
    It is really hard for people who do not understand the workings of the internet to comprehend the consequences. These people simply use the internet with little understanding, or fear it and don't work to leverage it to their advantage. Tarrantino is a wonderful writer and director, but I don't know that has any technical skills or how much he understands what is possible and not possible. He may or may not see that linking is just a citation. This is probably true of a lot of other people.

    My favorite story of this is SMBC, the web comic. The writer of this comic got really, really mad when some right wing religious nuts linked to the comic. I mean threw a real temper tantrum. A lot of allegedly intelligent people also went along with him. What I found funny is that SMBC clearly was using a prepackaged web application, and just like most prepackaged web application for comics, there was instructions right below the comic telling anyone who wanted to how to link to the comic so they could display the comic on their own webpage. Now, if whoever ran the website were technically proficient, or even just knew how to read, they could have adjusted the text so that people could would have to make a copy of it rather than pull it off the server every time, or they could have added a note saying that only certain like minded people were allowed to read the comic, and everyone else was to go away. Likewise, if SMBC did not like deep linking, it is possible to filter requests based on domains. I have worked on custom web servers, and I assure it is non trivial but not difficult.

    So to answer your question, never. Most people are never going to understand the technology.,

  • by Darinbob ( 1142669 ) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @08:41PM (#46096189)

    The best news of all is that Tarantino canceled the movie.

  • by dAzED1 ( 33635 ) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @08:59PM (#46096317) Journal

    " I'm just saying that there's a journalistic reason for Gawker to do what it did"

    Err...what "journalistic reason" could there possibly be for offering a ransom for an illegal activity, then publishing the results of that activity, for the sole purpose of generating adview/click revenue? Aside from gawker not even having any journalistic content, what in the world is the "journalistic reason" for that?

    Now that said, I think there's a moral/ethical reason for creators to willingly do it - and somewhat for the consumers to share it even if it is against the will of the one who created it - but that's because I'm a biased open society guy, and a complete nutjob. I can't though, in all my madness, envision a world/perspective/banana in which there is a "journalistic reason" for this. Someone help me here?

  • by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @11:18PM (#46097025)

    I used to handle DMCA requests. They apply to anything and everything. You'd think they just apply to actual content, but they also apply to links, torrent files (which are basically just links) and even "activity" (i.e. you get a letter from your ISP for what you supposedly have done with no proof) The whole problem with DMCA is it's so completely vague and nearly impossible to figure out if you're in the right or wrong that the content owners (or even people pretending to be them) can basically make a threat and you have little recourse but to comply or get sued. Even if you win you've spent a lot of money just to keep a link up and usually content owners pockets are very deep.

    Eventually this vagueness will get the law struck down when someone goes so far with it that it reaches a high enough court. But until then we're stuck with this bullshit.

  • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @11:53AM (#46100239) Journal

    Advocating anything is protected by the First Amendment. Advocacy is speech.

Thus spake the master programmer: "Time for you to leave." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"