Our world-wide web is one made up of links; without them, no web. Plain and simple. It's thus that any threat to linking affects us all.
In China the dominant search engine Baidu was acquitted for linking to illegal music downloads.
The reason, Beijing No.1 Intermediate People's Court said, is that Baidu doesn't pirate those tracks themselves and therefore have no responsibility in paying any damages.
That reasoning is close to the one followed in the USA where the 2000 Judge Kaplan decision barred sites from linking to (illegal) content if 3 conditions were met: 1. you had to know, when linking, that the illegal stuff was there, 2. know that the illegal content is illegal to offer, 3. make or keep the link in order to spread the illegal content.
LINK WARS (2)
Closer to home (the invidual site vs. the rest of the world), in the UK a consortium of online newspapers is officially fed up with aggregators stealing or "stealing" their content.
Online news aggregator NewsNow's bot has been blocked in robots.txt.
The underlying problem is the Newspaper Licensing Agency agreement which basically states that if you make its members' content available, you have to pay license fees. The problem being that "content" would also refer to circulating links.
GOOGLE: COUNTRY OR MAFFIA?
Google made industry observers laugh when Eric Schmidt said that Google is no country; they don't even have their own police, prosecutors, or jails.
Which would make the "if you don't do this, we"ll do that" simple, menacing threats.
Google does have its own enforcers and while it has no jail its cement ballast dragging a site down to "950, choking the life out of a business is probably just as effective " if not more.
GOOGLE'S IDEA OF DUPLICATE CONTENT: THEFT
On that "Don't Be Evil" note: Google's 2008 "settlement" to scan and republish copyrighted book material continues to encounter the stiff opposition it deserves.
Bird's eye overview: Google said it was going to scan any book it could get. Not for private use (permitted under fair use) but to republish huge chunks of them.
To try to stay out of trouble they said "OK, we're going to scan books that are out of print". Here's the catch though: several of those out of print books are still under full copyright protection.
Google will display substantial parts of these books " and if you want to read the whole thing you can buy the book from Google. 63% will go to the original publisher, the rest to, you guessed it, Google.
That's so far beyond what copyright laws allow, it's what we commonly refer to as pure plain and simple theft.
Google was taken to court and 1 out of 4 US American writer associations made a settlement with Google, in effect signing over the digital rights to certain titles to Google.
Another crazy aspect of the settlement is that unless you opted out, you're automatically opted in.
European countries have already protested and books from France and Germany, among other countries, are already excluded.
GOOGLE APOLOGIZES FOR THEFT, PROMISES "SETTLEMENT"
A Chinese association representing 8,000 Chinese writers was pretty upset Google already had gone ahead scanning books that aren't theirs.
The scanning has been done in recent years.
Google has now apologized and has handed over a list of books it has
pirated scanned and has said it will forge an agreement to scan these books.
Why Google has gone ahead digitizing these titles without such an agreement in place is unclear.