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Directly Linking to Copyrighted Files On the Web Is Now Illegal - Weird but True

Sir Tim Berners Lee, Internet FatherWikipedia defines Web as a collection of documents and resources linked by hyperlinks and URLs. A user views Web pages using a browser and navigates between them using hyperlinks.

When you create a website on the internet in pubic domain, you want visitors to come and explore your site. If they enjoy your content, they may write about it on their own sites and link to your webpages.

That's how things work. If you don't want the internet crowd to discover your "secret" content, either use password protected pages or don't upload stuff on the web at all.

But two recent court rulings, one in the US and other one in Australia, could have some impact on the nature of internet and the way we link to content stored on other web-servers.

In both the cases, judges have agreed that direct linking to copyright content (like music or webcasts) posted elsewhere online without permission can be illegal. Say you find some video or MP3 files on a website, you cannot link to that file directly as per the ruling.

Is this ruling evil and the judges dumb to take such a decision ? Well, if we think from the content owner's perspective, he has the right reasons to file a complaint.

If people deep-link to your media files, your page-views reduce and there's significant loss of advertising revenue as well because people will get your content even without paying a visiting to your site. And you still have to pay the bandwidth bills when people directly download content off your web servers. So the court ruling sounds pretty reasonable but am sure a majority of influential minds won't agree here.

Infact, a similar issue happened with Digg podcasting as well when they allowed people to watch videos or listen to podcasts without even leaving the Digg website as they were deep-linking to the MP3 and MOV files of video bloggers and podcasters. Maybe some content owners didn't like the idea and so Digg slightly changed their linking policy - now podcasters can decide whether Digg should deep-link to their content or not.