Wednesday, October 24, 2007

R.I.P. TV Links

Well, it appears the site TV Links has been shut down, and its owner arrested. (Story here, here, here , here and here...Or just run your own Google search for more results.)

Since I discovered this site a few months ago I've been making good use of it. Actually that's an understatement. I've been addicted to it. In no small part because it allowed me to see a lot of the TV programs I wouldn't have otherwise been able to see in Japan. (I've also reviewed some documentaries movies on this blog that I had found off of TV Links).

Some of my computer Geek friends inform me that TV Links was really small potatoes, and with a little tweaking of my computer I could get into file sharing which is where the real action is at. But I can't be bothered. It's not worth the effort to me, and to be perfectly frank it's probably for the best that TV Links bit the big one. I was spending too much time turning my brain to mush watching re-runs of "The Simpsons" and "The Family Guy". It was just too easy not to.

On the other hand, I did improve my brain a bit with their documentary section. I watched "1oo Reasons Why Evolution is Stupid" and then balanced it out by watching a Richard Dawkins lecture. Then I watched a debate between Al Sharpton and Christopher Hitchens on the existence of God. In the end I usually found myself agreeing whoever had spoken last.

(Incidently I was able to provided the links to all the Google Videos above because I knew what I was looking for. Without TV links I would never have known these videos existed).

I also enjoyed documentaries on ancient Rome, fast food, dinosaurs, Noam Chomsky, and many other things that I simply let run in the background. But on the whole, I'd say the hours I spent watching junk vastly outwayed the amount of time I spent watching something educational. It's probably for the best TV Links is no more, at least for me.

Nonetheless, I think there are some disturbing legal issues around this. I always thought the webmaster of TV links had a pretty good defense when he said right on the website "this is not illegal. all I'm doing is providing links to stuff already on the internet" (all paraphrased as the original site is now no more and I can't go back for exact qoutes).

Several of the articles I linked to above make the same point. I can certainly understand that the copyright holders don't like it, but is linking to stuff really illegal. If it is, I'm certainly in trouble. I've linked to a lot of copyrighted material on this blog over the years (this post here being but one of several examples).

Now, you could argue of course that I just have a few random links posted every now and again on this blog, and TV Links had a systematic alphabetized list of constantly updated links. But is that really a legal distinction? Did TV Links violate the law and I didn't because they alphabetized their links? I guess we'll have to wait and see what the courts decide.

Update: If the claim made off this discussion is correct (see Answer 3) then Viacom is going around not only removing TV Links but filing claims against any video which simply mentions the name. Someone should reign them in a bit.

Link of the Day
speaking of videos on the Internet: I found this video of Tom Hayden while searching for historical oddities on Google, but this video (of him speaking on how to end the Iraq War) proves he is far from regulated to the past. Very relevant, very practical advice. I know we're all busy people, but this is a must watch. Put it on in the background while you're doing something else if you have to, but listen to this.

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