Monday, 11 March 2013
Linking Site Operator Convicted by French Appeals Court
According to press reports last Friday (March 8), the Court of Appeals of Bordeaux affirmed an individual's conviction at trial for criminal copyright infringement. Kevin Hanon was responsible for a website called ledix.com which consisted of hundreds of links to unauthorized movie downloading sites. In other words, the site was a linking site which did not actually host the pirated content.
According to the evidence adduced at trial, the site made approximately €6,000 in advertising revenue between 2006 and 2010.
Following a complaint brought by the major studios, criminal proceedings were brought against Mr. Hanon. After having been convicted at trial, an appeal was lodged by the studios, principally to obtain greater damages.
As the decision has not been made public, it is impossible to be sure of the reasons given by the Court. It is nonetheless striking that the conviction was upheld, which means that the mere fact that the site was a linking site (and not the actual site hosting the pirated content) was not sufficient to avoid liability.
The Court of Appeals also ordered the accused to pay almost €10,000 to the various rightsholders by way of damages (they had sought close to €1 million).
The case highlights the importance of these so-called linking sites in the piracy ecosystem. Without them, locating the unlawful content would be considerably more difficult. As recognized by HADOPI in its recent report (see here), they are part and parcel of the piracy problem and it is thus perhaps no surprise that the operator of one such site has been held accountable. (Readers may also recall that even certain cyberlockers (e.g., RapidShare) believe that the best way of cracking down on piracy is to target so-called linking sites: see here).