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Dutch Court Rules Against Site Linking To Pirated Content

An appeals court ruled that making files available constitutes publishing. It also overturned a lower-court ruling in favor of an MP3 search directory and ordered damages.
A Dutch Court of Appeals has ruled against an mp3 search directory, ruling it illegal and ordering an injunction and damages.

The ruling, against Techno Design Internet Programming BV, the operator of www.zoekmp3.nl, stated that providing deep links to unlicensed mp3 files is illegal in the Netherlands. The decision, in favor of the anti-piracy organization BREIN, overturns a June 2004 ruling of a lower court.

The decision stated that Techno Design was aware it referred visitors to illegal files and that it benefited commercially without taking into account the interests of content owners. Damages have not been tallied.

"There has been concern that Holland could become a center of Internet piracy, but this decision shows that the Dutch courts will not tolerate websites building a business out of facilitating copyright infringement," IFPI's General Counsel Geoff Taylor said in a prepared statement.

The international recording industry group said the ruling sets conditions for the legitimate digital music market to flourish and sends a clear message to others operating mp3 search services.

The court found that making files available constitutes publishing, a warning about copyright infringement did not excuse Techno Design from liability and web spiders did not free the company from responsibility for creating its database. It also ruled that Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects freedom of expression and the right to information, does not override copyright rules.

The decision is the latest judgment against "deep link" sites offering unauthorized links to copyrighted music. Similar websites recently were deemed illegal in Australia and China.

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