Fake "no-linking" copyright law breaks Wikipedia

Yesterday, I blogged about Fox sending out bogus copyright takedown notices to websites that linked to material that they said infringed their copyright. There's no established law that says that linking to infringing material is itself infringing, but that doesn't stop Fox from just making up whatever copyright laws it wants and enforcing them through harassing, fraudulent letters.

There's more harm to this than the direct harm to individuals who post links that Fox doesn't like. Even worse is the chilling effect on people who write the Web, the fear that they're going to come under a legal hammer unless they validate the copyright status of every link they make (imagine if Google held itself to this standard! No Blogger, no search-results, no Google Groups).

Some Wikipedia editors have now taken the position that all links to YouTube clips and any other material whose copyright status can't be validated (that is, practically every single page on the Internet) should be ripped out of Wikipedia. That means that an entry about Stephen Colbert couldn't link to fair-use excerpts of his White House Press Corps speech; that an entry about the Katrina disaster couldn't link to eyewitness videos, and so on.


(Thanks, Adam!)