Judge Proposes Outlawing Linking…

…yes, linking.  Linking like this.  Richard Posner, who is apparently a well-known “conservative” judge, has suggested on his blog that linking to copyrighted materials online should be made illegal when the copyright holder has not given explicit consent.  The point of this, it seems, would be to protect the dying newspaper industry by keeping people from reading newspaper articles online for free.  That this would actually be effective in practice is highly unlikely, as Lew Rockwell points out:

So what would happen if Posner got his way (impossible, I guess, given all the great hackers, etc.)? We’d all link to foreign sites only, which would then cover US goings-on even more fully, because they would want the traffic. The Washington Post, the New York Times, and all the rest of the CIA’s house organs would continue to decline until they are bailed out by some Obama stimulus, thus making clear what has long been the case, that they serve the state.

That his proposal might eventually be successful is perhaps a little more likely:

Congress has been known to act with great alacrity on copyright matters when they affect corporate interests. And newspaper owners have been remarkably successful in calling attention to their plight.

But though tax breaks, special non-profit status and other federal goodies will likely go nowhere, a law aimed squarely at the linking practices of sites such as Google News and the Huffington Post would probably prove popular, the facts be damned.

It’s ominous that those would push for such a law now have an ally as brilliant and influential as Posner.

Read more here.

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