TV links website owner arrested for copyright infringement

A man aged 26 from Cheltenham was arrested on Thursday (18th October) in connection with offences relating to the facilitation of copyright infringement on the Internet. The arrest came during an operation by officers from Gloucestershire County Council Trading Standards Service working with investigators from the Federation Against Copyright Theft (‘FACT’) and Gloucestershire Police. The man has been released pending further enquiries.

The site, TV Links (www.tv-links.co.uk), was providing links to illegal film content that has been camcorded from within a cinema and then uploaded to the Internet. The site additionally provided links to TV shows that were also being illegally distributed.

Sites such as TV Links contribute to and profit from copyright infringement by identifying, posting, organising, and indexing links to infringing content found on the Internet that users can then view on demand by visiting these illegal sites.

Kieron Sharp, FACT Director General, said: “We at FACT have stated very clearly that we intended to pursue those who are openly exploiting and facilitating the distribution of illegal film and TV content and this was the first major target.

The theft and distribution of films harms the livelihoods of those working in the UK film industry and in ancillary industries, as well as damaging the economy.

In addition, those visiting sites hosting illegal content run the risk of downloading Trojans or viruses that can infect their computers.”

Roger Marles, Head of Trading Standards, said: “This practice allows people to view any one of a large number of films and television programmes directly via the website. This is illegal under UK copyright law. The ‘users’ are potentially evading licence fees, subscription fees to digital services or the cost of purchase or admittance to cinemas to view the films.

No physical product changes hands but the effect is the same – anyone has the opportunity to view an illegal copy of a copyrighted work. This is all done without the permission of the owners of the copyright or trade mark protection in the works being distributed.

As no control is exerted over who can visit the site and access the service, there is no regard for the age of the viewer and therefore no control of the content of what is viewed.”

The operation was conducted with the assistance of BREIN, the Dutch anti-piracy body, who have served notice on the TV Links hosting provider, Leaseweb, to allow the website servers to be removed. Leaseweb is based in the Netherlands

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