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back to article TV-Links man: 'I'm no master criminal'

The man arrested as part of the investigation into the TV-Links website has spoken to his local newspaper about his arrest. In a story from thisisgloucestershire.co.uk, David Rock, a 26-year-old computer engineer from Cheltenham, says he didn't think what he was doing was illegal. Rock was arrested just over a week ago in …

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To be fair

He wasn't hosting the content he was just providing links to the streams or downloads which any google search would have yielded eventually, hardly criminal activity.

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Dead Vulture

c'mon, really?

hones' guv, I didnt know that I was doing nuffin wrong.

I liked the site, but it was always gonna be short-lived. That defence will never stand up in court.

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@Lloyd

That is true but the way FACT and their cronies played it led to front page headlines in the Saturday edition of the local news paper of "The Pirate of Hester's Way".

They purposely leaked misleading information painting this man as some sort of Pirate Mastermind because they knew the gutter press (which the Gloucestershire Echo manages to be quite often) would pick up on headlines like that.

FACT don't care what the truth is - they want headline grabbing stories to scare people and if they have to lie and make things up to get them then they will. Lets face it they claim that its Copyright Theft when it isn't

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and to be even fairer

I'm sending him some cash, as a thank you for the many hours of entertainment that his site has provided me.

He should sue for false arrest and wrongful imprisonment because he hasn't committed a criminal offence, and it remains to be seen if he's committed a civil offence. No need for the cops to be involved at all (but he'll never get his DNA sample back)

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Dead Vulture

tough

luck. If he had have been a 60+ old man or woman whose life rotates around gardening and the the internet became a side hobby, then "i didn't know" would have more impact. a 26 year old working in the IT sector would be much more savvy, either that or a great bullshitter to get his job...,..

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Flame

But...

I didn't steal all those people's TVs and stuff, I just happened to mention to a few friends that I had been compiling a list of houses with expensive equipment in them, complete with maps and times when the owners were out, then let anyone have a look at my information if they asked nicely, and buy me drinks as a thank-you.

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re: c'monm, really?

"That defence will never stand up in court."

It should if he hasn't done anything wrong. If he was silly enough to host it then fair enough, but as many people have stated, providing a link on the internet to another site is NOT illegal.

The most I can see he has done is annoy some publishers who don't understand the problem and have set the dogs on the wrong people.

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Who is next, google, ebay, amazon?

Exactly how far can you take a stupid situation - who will FACT and Trading Standards try and prosecute next, Google? After all they make their money storing and returning links at a person's request and hold links to copyrighted material.

I dread to think what precident this could set if this man is actually prosecuted...

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@c'mon really

Yes as techie people we know that really he knew that he probably helping copyright infringement, but it is important to have an appropriate law for this or anyone will be arrested for anything!

We have enough new legislation in this country to cover most things but there is no clear ruling on linking to content on the internet, or at least the current view is that you are not breaking the law otherwise the internet would break.

This guy should fight it tooth and nail as he did he did what many others have done, but was an easy target for the feds.

Its also worth noting here that FACT only acted on the instructions of americans.... good to see we are at their call anytime they want to apply a non-UK law in this country.

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I think i know this chap

Went to Uni with a Dave Rocks, seemed a well enough balanced person to me but there you go you just can't know if thats some master criminal beside you.

The world is so much safer now I'm sure, think of the copyrights after all, poor wee copyrights.

I know lobby is a powerfully tool of the corprats but it amazes be how easily they can get governments to act. If only citizens could get their government to act to their needs as well.

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Anonymous Coward

Are you sure

Are you sure providing links to copyrighted material is not illegal? Seems like we have one or two lawyers on the reg.. lucky us eh? Do you need an example... Napster perhaps? Didnt store anything on the servers except links to the appropriate p2p clients.

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Pirate

Bollocks!

Providing links to pirated content is very different to hosting pirated content. Following this logic, google, yahoo, microsoft and probably every other search engine out there is guilty of piracy on a scale thousands of times bigger.

eg. type "ed2k simpsons" into google and count the number of ed2k links that get returned to download the simpsons film or even tv episodes.

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Stop

Hasn't broken the law...

I would like to mention that this chap hasn't broken the law in anyway.

Section 92 is very clear that: (Thanks Reg)

"A person does not commit an offence under this section unless- (a) the goods are goods in respect of which the trade mark is registered, or (b) the trade mark has a reputation in the United Kingdom and the use of the sign takes or would take unfair advantage of, or is or would be detrimental to, the distinctive character or the repute of the trade mark."

This law that FACT claimed he has broken doesn't apply to context in which it was used. For instance links to sites aren't goods; if it were the case, Google would be guilty of it by indexing sites.

Bottom line - they couldn't couldn't arrest him for intellectual property or copyright breach and tried to bend a trademark law to fit the situation.

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RE: Are you sure

Seemingly you do not have any idea of jurisdiction (or perhaps geography).

Napster case == USA

Gloucestershire != USA

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Happy

not illegal

It's not illegal in your country yet. napster is a example of American law at work.. currently the only country in the free world were linking is illegal.

however this British Chap has had his rights infringed on. he has the right to post information (all he did was categorize links providing a simple means to access Information) as long as it is not harmful to others. (a rule FACT has sidlind to trash his name) there is no example in the commonwealth of linking being harmful other than kid porn witch is illegal everywhere. and rightly so the only person his links infringed on were Corps.

in the minds of the FACT peeps, this is alot like a gun crime. who actualy killed the person? the shooter? the parents of the shooter. the guy who sold the gun or the company that makes the guns?

problem is this is not a gun crime. and big company's like the studios need to realize the information is out there. and if their going to peruse legal action they need to go after the people who produce this stuff not the guys who make it easy to access tv links went down i switched to another site. im not missing anything except the ease of tv links. witch is a hindrance but now that the best went down it won't be long till three more pop up looking just like it. take napster for an example. went down and when it was out fifty more sprung up and now they pay for offshore servers so gov can't touch em. use peer to peer only.

FACT did nothing and will accomplish nothing.If tv links comes back up ill pay. because before there loss i took it for granted that it was there. now i will help it to my fullest extent keep it going im not paying 58 dollers to get cable a month.

well thats my view.

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Yup Yup

I like the comparison with the gun killings and the gun manufacturers, and also the power of the corporate lobby versus the people's lobby (which in theory put the politicians into power in the first place)...

I would go on to sue the ISP who allowed him to access his website, as well as the PC maker who made the pc he used to edit the website, and the power company who supplied the electricity, for without all these things there would have been no copyright infringement hahaha...

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I still don't get this.

Surely he's done nothing illegal. Technically speaking.

If you were walking down the street and asked a pedestrian "where's that chap that sells pirate DVDs?" and the pedestrian answers "over there, in that alley" then surely he's done nothing wrong. You couldn't nick the bloke - he's just pointed to somewhere else. He's not provided any dodgy content himself.

The same applies here. He provided LINKS, and that alone - no actual hosted content.

I reckon he'll get away with it.

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theft

Did they take his computers/server away because that may be theft if FACT/trading standards have it. If not and he has not been charged the police should return it and he can go back on line in the clear .

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Black Helicopters

FACT

Have always been way OTT, from what I remember being written before it is mainly consisted of ex-plod. They did some heavy handed raids about 9 years ago on dvd suppliers that were holding region 1 dvds (back in the days when there was about 2 uk dvds and they were both crap)

Quite how just having a trade organisation can basically buy real police time to bust people on tenuous grounds. I mean nothing will probably happen but it sends out the message "we know we haven't got anything but we will bust your arse"

Lot of effort over multinationals, yet I don't see extra plod on the street after a 90 year old was beaten up last week.

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@ Rik

No, compiling lists of expensive goods and when the owners are out is not illegal either (except maybe on grounds of privacy etc).

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Anonymous Coward

If they get a conviction

Then I think I will set up a site for people to donate money for a private prosecution of all the major search engines after a prosecution of FACT for the lies they have spread to the press regarding this case which is beyond any shadow of a doubt attempting to pervert the course of justice, I will have to speak to a QC to find out if those companies that back to FACT can also be prosecuted.

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Hogwash.

I once read about a case of a (sick, twisted) man who owned a website, which linked to various illegal child porn sites (are there any other kind?).

This man got off scot free, because he had none of the offending images/movies on his HD and was merely linking to these sites.

A total bastard like that still stalks our streets and isn't listed in the Sex offenders register.

Am I to derive from this article that the powers that be are now taking a harder line on copyright infringement than they do on child abuse? Thats the logical conclusion one can draw from this. I'm left feeling shocked and sickened.

If this isn't the case, its hard to see what point they're trying to make by dragging this poor chap through the courts and having him humiliated by the local press.

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Pirate

Maybe he _is_ the _master_ criminal

I suspect that FACT might try to use the UK conspiracy law against him, or at least aiding and abetting. Making it easy to find "illegal" content is a level above what Google does.

Just look at the first (real) result returned by

http://www.google.com/search?complete=1&hl=en&q=uk+conspiracy+law&btnG=Google+Search

and who owns that site...

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed TV-Links to watch stuff that will never be available in the UK** but I bet they'll try to make an example of him

**Though why not? I thought that the "long tail" theory meant that just a few paying viewers would repay the cost of making existing material available

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Happy

Hmm... I'm not sure

There was a Big Issue seller in Peterborough. Met Prince Charles at one point. Anyway he was sent down for putting people in touch with drug dealers. Didn't get his hands dirty himself, just told people where to go and got occasional backhanders.

Oh, and he sold the big issue for about 5 years in the centre of town which nobody thought was odd.

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you can get nicked in the UK for stuff that isn't illegal

or you could, a little while back.

Trespass isn't a (or wasn't) a criminal offence, but "conspiracy to trespass" was the offence a number of folks were tried for (can't remember the end result. "Prompt please"?).

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To all who say...

..."what about Yahoo!? What about Google?"

Well, maybe that's the point. If they can squeeze this case through existing legislation, or use it as a lever in lobbying for a change in the law, what about Google?

If this guy goes down, Google will have to rethink, replan and find a way to keep warez off the results page....

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Paris Hilton

The burglary analogy is flawed

The information was already in the public domain so a better analogy would be to say that if a newspaper were to mention that Kate Moss (listing her address) was away on a photo shoot and someone wrote the pertinent information down and then distributed it in the form of a flyer, then were Ms Moss' property to be burgled who would be liable? The newspaper or the flyer distributor or simply just the burglar? The information was already in the public domain via the newspaper so the distributor feasibly shouldn't be liable as you could never say where the information came from without catching the burglars and asking them. Even then it would be almost impossible to bring a successful prosecution against the leaflet distributor.

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Anonymous Coward

As a matterless FACT

Hey people. Try this. Pick a link, any link. I opted for this one

(http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/10/29/no_master_criminal/)

however you may prefer to opt for one of your own choosing. Navigate to the page and.. ta da.. Copyrighted material..

(bottom right in my choice)

I hope you are all ashamed of yourselves. I know I am.

PS. Some particular aspects of the Creative Commons license are exempt from the above.

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Another uniformed comment

So sounds like this chap is guilty of manuly doing a process that google et al do automatically.

Is that the problem? Not the link but the intent. I am against this procecution but perpaps the charge could have been aiding and abeting.... Helping someone comit a crime is a crime. However google could do the "Whoops look what people have SOMEHOW managed to add to our database. We try to find these....."

Now if google was paid by a warez hoster for top billing THAT would be a crime as they are making a profit.

PS I don't live in the UK or USA but AUS so I really don't know what I'm talking about :)

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JC
Black Helicopters

What IF

What if this guy is a master criminal pretending to be a normal person pretending to be several different people who rip these shows pretending to individually share and host the content pretending not to be the one normal person, to obfuscate things by linking to his own sites to throw people off even further when he claims to be an IT person instead of claiming complete ignorance of all things technical?

I'm fairly sure you won't even be able to get me to agree that this chameleon exists at all! We all know web links are self-propigating.

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Pirate

@ hogwash

unfortunately some fat cat isn't losing out on his cream when it comes to exploitation of our children so they don't give a shit, whereas something that is potentially going to hinder them getting another Jag or Ferrari well it simply must be stopped!!!

I think if they pooled they're efforts into making file sharing Piracy a perfectly above board activity I think it would go some way to stopping other most heinous activities from being conducted, but then again who gives a shit about each other anymore lets make some MONEY!!! or to those of you who think it is "criminal" or "theft" to rip and file share lets make other people MONEY!!!

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Happy

Google

google will never have to worry nor will yahoo. there publicly traded company's. they have lobbies t. they have money. and last but not least they tow the line.

do you remember a few years back when google and yahoo agree to turn over there logs to the govs that requested them? so they could better track people who were planing crimes or looking at child porn?

point being i hear people saying google will have to watch there backs. we all know that won't happen cause mony counts in the world of piracy. what is the diffrence between a privateer and a pirite? the queen backs one and not the other.

the states and brits back google and yahoo. why because they tow the company line

Again only my feelings

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Joke

Re: Hogwash.

Of course copyright "theft" is *much* more important than tracking and prosecuting murderers, kiddie fiddlers, gang crime and (these days) "unimportant" stuff like muggings and burglaries. None of these people pay much to get results, whereas the industry cartels have lots of cash and are therefore much more important. It's simple economics.

Ruining one man's livelihood is much easier than actually doing any police work and there's less paperwork to fill out as well.

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But Google DO make a profit from piracy......

At least in a round-about way. They have people who pay them for top billing on particular searches for a start, and other advertising that they make money from. Now it is fair to say that Google would not BE what they are without the search engine, which people CAN use to search for illegal links, or sites hosting illegal links. So lets say that for example, 10% of Google searches are to find illegal content, given how much money the company makes now that's quite a bit of money that Google make from piracy isn't it?

Of course they'll claim that their search engine allows you to search for ANYTHING and it is not only for pirated material, but then I would say that they've done almost nothing to actually prevent the pirate searches.

Of course, they won't attack Google, they have too much money and can afford big lawyers. Instead the RIAA/MPAA/FACT like to pick on the little people who they know cannot afford a decent defense.

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As far as I recall...

The original article, that I can't be arsed to look up, said that the guy embedded some of the video on his web page. Links or no, this would probably be enough to allow FACT to get a warrant for a search and IMO was pretty stupid. I really don't think that he would have been done for just links, a cease and disist maybe, but I doubt a raid.

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Pirate

FACT are a bunch of clowns

i know this guy personally, and can vouch that he had sought legal advice and had been told that he WAS NOT breaking any current UK law (and that came from a professional solicitor). It genuinely was a hobby and not some master plan to take over the world!!!

FACT have just cobbled some trumped up charges because they can't actually use any real law. They are simply using this for publicity, I bet this will never get to court but it wont stop the self-important-too-fat-and-saggy-for-real-duties ex filth from getting huge fat boners (and tugging each other off) over their "major bust".

The fact (no pun intended) of the matter is they haven't got the balls or ability to go after those hosting the content (like youtube and google video) so they picked on a small fry so they could tell the wife they "still got it".

I'll wager that the orificers of FUCT all had their batman costumes on that weekend as the celebratory spanking paddle was passed around the sty.

Whilst mentioning the sack of crap that is the Glos Echo, it's funny to see they've devoted a page story about how hard the life of a family of drug dealers have been. Plus a word of advise, NEVER put your email address into their site as they sell it to other parties and you will get spammed.

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Anonymous Coward

Fair Trial?

Surely the biased statements by FACT and their gutter-press co-conspirators will make any legal proceedings null and void?

From the description:

"The TV-Links site allowed users to share links to various sites that host content from TV programmes and films."

it sounds more like a Facebook for IP-violators than a Google/Amazon/Yahoo!. Has anyone gone after Facebook for posting links to stuff like this?

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Boffin

obfuscation

dear world, without meaning to be a killjoy, surely you gotta wonder why he went to such elaborate lengths to anonymise his involvement with the site and obfuscate the hell out of the links he was providing. at least google lets you request takedowns.

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Anonymous Coward

Section 92

The issue would be part b (edited for emphasis):-

"(b) the trade mark has a reputation in the United Kingdom and the use of the sign takes or would take unfair advantage of (...) the trade mark."

I think it's fair to say that the various copyright holders mentioned on the site have a reputation in the UK, and that using their mark to point ot stolen content would be taking unfair advantage of said mark.

It seems very extreme to arrest him without simply requesting he take down the site beforehand though. It would also be hard for them to demonstrate that it's actually "taking advantage" since he didn't make any money from the site.

It's good to see the lad hasn't been charged for such trivia, and won't be "dragged through the courts" at all.

@Gower

> lets make some MONEY!!!

> (...) or to those of you who think it is "criminal" or "theft" to rip and file

> share lets make other people MONEY!!!

Isn't the whole thing avoiding spending your MONEY!!! though?

So when it's someone elses money, that's bad money, but when it's yours that's good money is it?

@Tim Lake

Regarding the rather bad burglary analogy, while it's true that this isn't illegal, surely you can see it's immoral?

The police have more extensive powers of arrest than other people and only need a vague hint that there might be an offence committed, the trespass thing is "aggravated trespass" which is an offence.

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Re: Another uniformed comment

One of the issues here is that here in the UK it is not an offence to aid and abet "copyright theft" -- so this guy has been charged with some kind of trademark infringement -- basically so that they have something to prosecute him for.

It's marvellous living in a country where the justice system thinks it's acceptable to cause GBH to a pensioner, but completely unacceptable to perhaps allow someone to see something which may mean that they don't pay someone some money, which they may not have paid anyhow.

The moral of this story, and similar (Mr modchip, for example), is that if you want to see a movie, listen to some music, or play a video game -- beat a few old people to death and steal their money. The UK legal system approves of that.

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Oh come on!

As much as it isn't technically illegal to link to copyrighted material, face the reality that if you are providing the public with a direct link to the data you are complicit in the spread of copyrighted material.

I'm no fan of some copyright laws and the allowances given to distributors for limiting use of a product you buy such as a DVD or CD, and I believe all advertising of alternate products on such DVDs should be banned. However, I'm intelligent enough to recognise that if I'm searching out illegal material, and my very living is that of a technical engineer, I wouldn't really have much of a defence.

In this case, technically thanks to the LETTER of the law rather than the SPIRIT of the law, he will probably get away with it - but it will be used as a rallying cry by the industry to tighten up the laws and punishments.

Of course, once the laws are tightened up there is more of a chance that the authorities will go after companies like youtube and google. They'd need a very very solid case to go after companies that can hire lawyers en masse. The Chewbacca Defence (South Park reference) has saved murderers before, if the law isn't stricter then the authorities will not waste their money defeating it.

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Unhappy

@ Edward Pearson

Thats all well and good, but if they took down the sites which included the illegal stuff then people wouldnt be able to link to anything.

Its easier to create a page with links, than to maintain a server full of illegal content (Cost+Time). For every server of illegal goods, there are dozens of webpages linking to them.

TBH they [FACT,USA,ETC] should prosecute the hosts and not the people linking, but that means big money and big lawyers (which probably scares them). They seem to think its best to spent money on frying one or two little fish.

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Unhappy

Not theft

An AC spoke : "Did they take his computers/server away because that may be theft if FACT/trading standards have it. If not and he has not been charged the police should return it and he can go back on line in the clear"

Unfortunately it wouldn't be theft, as among other things to you need to prove the following points for theft :

- Dishonesty : The plods that took it can say that based on the information they received they had reasonable grounds to think that the computers may have evidence of a crime on them. Thus there is no (legal, anyway) dishonesty on their part.

- Intent to permanently deprive : Even if they could be proved to be dishonest, there is no intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property, as the Police will state that their intention is to return the property at the end of their invesitgation. This may be a LONG time from now, as even though the chap was released without charge (or was he just given Police Bail?) the invesitgation may last much longer (and of course the Police may decide to charge him at a later date if they discover any actual evidence of crime).

Of course, if it turns out in due course that the Police didn't have sufficient grounds for the arrest/search/seizure in the first place, then their actions after that will most likely be illegal and he would have grounds to complain/sue. However an arrest just has to be based on "reasonableness" rather than absolute guilt, otherwise you couldn't arrest someone until they had been found guilty by a court! This all seems unreasonable to us, but the Police have got away with a lot worse than this under the banner of what is reasonable.

As an aside, I'm an ex-plod, and crap like this (particularly in the area of IT related crime) was one of the reasons that I quit the force.

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Stop

Guilty of a different offence maybe?

Lots of people are saying he's not guilty of copyright infringement. I'd agree with that. But one reader said if you pass on info about a dodgy dvd seller that's not a crime.

Well in this case his website was basically advertising the location of copyright infringements so others could take advantage of it. So he was aware of a crime being commited by not one, but multiple other individuals...and did not report it.

I'm sure the sentence for "failing to report a crime" is pretty low and doesn't grab as many headlines but they should add that to the list of charges if they want to be sure of a convinction on *some* reasonable grounds.

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Hardly the head of a pirate ring

Common I don't think it is actually illegal to provide links to content on the internet, if that is the case then we need to dig further and bust anyone who ever linked to tv-links which in-turn linked to illegal content. I think trading standards made a bit of a booboo here and I for one hope they get there sorry asses kicked for it as they should have a better understanding especially if they plan to bust down peoples doors.

Bet the register has linked to dodgy sites before in articles so watch out!

Maybe good will come out of this in clearly establishing that this kind of activity simply isn’t illegal.

Also this was a pretty good site and I miss it, although I never downloaded anything I just liked the design a lot, honest!

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@JonB

I think you'll find that the law considers "taking advantage", whether fair or unfair, to imply some pecuniary benefit to the alleged offender. If he was doing it for free then I don't think this one will stick. Of course, if he's hosting ads on the site then it gets more difficult.

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Napster and Betamax

----

Are you sure providing links to copyrighted material is not illegal? Seems like we have one or two lawyers on the reg.. lucky us eh? Do you need an example... Napster perhaps?

----

Technically Napster were done for inducing copyright infringement, not copyright infringement itself. The argument being that the vast majority of Napster users were using it to share copyrighted material (music). Napster was generating advertising revenue based on the back of a user-base that wouldn't exist without that copyrighted music - basically if it was all garage-bands giving their music freely Napster would have had significantly fewer users, advertisers and income.

What this guy did was exactly the same (although I've no idea whether he was selling advertising) - inducing copyright infringement.

Google/YouTube and all the other search engines do something similar, but they have an important get-out clause - the technology has a large legitimate user-base. It's the Sony defence from the Betamax days. Yes the technology _could_ be used for copyright infringement (and therefore is) but there's a lot of non-infringing use going on as well. The defence failed for Napster because, compared to infringing usage, there really wasn't a whole lot of legitimate usage going on (and the biz was out to nail them).

It can work if the controls are in place (which is very, very difficult with P2P) look at garageband.com or download.com (the music section) - mostly unsigned bands with some bigger artists putting music up for streaming - or iLike where it's (mostly) just snippets. The distributor (cnet for instance) can control what material is being distributed and how.

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Coat

I used TV-Links to watch Red Dwarf....

...Red Dwarf I watched years ago on BBC2, I've ssen it and recorded half of it on VHS. Needless to say I still have the videos but dare not place them in my video player as they'll probably stretch! So I watched them on TV-Links.... Was I comiting a crime?

In short:

* I have a copy of the show, recorded from TV

* I watched it from an internet link I didn't pay for

* Result: ?

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Go

re: Guilty of a different offence maybe?

OK, how about this for a theory then. I was known to watch episodes of Stargate Atantis through TV Links (content hosted on various servers around the internet). At no point did any of those episodes state they were copyrighted material.

So how exactly IN THE EYES OF THE LAW was he able to "report a crime" when there was no clear evidence that any crime had been committed?!

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Anonymous Coward

@ Chris Neale

Actually, Both Copyright and Trademark infringement are civil matters in the UK, so not criminal offences, so therefore I can't see how he can be done for Aiding and Abetting a Criminal Offence, to use the full title

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