The End of Linking?
LDS Does NOT Want the Truth to be Told!

A Federal judge in Utah has issued a ruling that could fundamentally alter, if not destroy, the Web as it exists today.

Ruling in favor of the Mormon Church, U.S. District Court Judge Tena Campbell issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting Church critics Jerald and Sandra Tanner from posting URLs of sites that featured illegal copies of a Mormon text.

The Tanners operate the Utah Lighthouse Ministry Web site, to "document problems with the claims of Mormonism and compare LDS doctrines with Christianity," according to its home page. The Tanners' site didn't actually link to the pirated texts—it just posted the Web addresses (URLs) where the texts could be found.

How can simply posting a URL be a copyright violation? Judge Campbell's reasoning was based on the fact that Web browsers download a copy of a page whenever it is viewed. Thus, viewing the pirated copies of the Mormon text is a direct copyright violation.

However, Judge Campbell went farther, arguing that by merely posting the URLs for the pirated texts, the Tanners were engaging in "contributory copyright infringement," actively encouraging others to directly violate the Church's copyright. She banned them from posting "addresses to Web sites that defendants know, or have reason to know, contain the material alleged to infringe plaintiff's copyright."

Create a Link, Go to Jail

The ruling is disturbing, because directing users from page to page via links is the heart of what makes the Web work. Putting a legal damper on linking could have a chilling effect on the Web: If the ruling is upheld, linking to copyrighted pages may theoretically become illegal.

This isn't the first Web link lawsuit. In 1997, Ticketmaster sued Microsoft for its practice of "deep linking" into its site. Ticketmaster argued that links should all point to its "front door" so that it wouldn't lose advertising revenues from visitors who bypassed its menu pages. The companies recently settled out of court.

There are relatively few court rulings regarding Web copyright, especially when it comes to the issue of creating links to known pirated sites.

Another problem arises from the constantly changing nature of the Web. A link simply points to a particular page on the Web. The content of that page can change at any time. Should Web authors who create a link to a legitimate site be required to constantly check the page to make sure that it hasn't morphed into something illegal?

The Tanners' are considering appealing the ruling to the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit. If they don't, the case will go to trial, and the verdict will likely have wide-ranging consequences for both Web authors and users.

"Linking to others' web sites is unlikely to cause copyright problems under present law," according to the article Copyright on the Internet penned by Thomas G. Field, Jr., Professor of Law at the Franklin Pierce Law Center. Let's just hope, for the sake of the Web, that he's right.

Utah Lighthouse Ministries


Editorial Note:
While this website does not necessarily endorse or agree with the theological views of the Utah Lighthouse Ministries. We do defend and support their right to free speech and free press. These rights are being abused and negated by the same 'Luferian Brotherhood' which David Icke has written extensively about, regarding the elitist Judges and the power hungry religious leaders.

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