The following text is on the webpage “Hyperlinking in HTML for the Web” included as part of “Laws and Texas Tech University System Policies Affecting Computer Use.”

An HTML hyperlink (“link”) connects to another Web page or another portion of the same Web page. While not a copyright violation to create a link, it is a violation of the law to create a link that contributes to unauthorized copying of a copyrighted work if you know or had reason to know of the unauthorized copying and encouraged it. This includes linking to a site that allows unauthorized copying. While you do not have a direct link for copying on YOUR site, linking to a site that does is still considered infringement by you. Take care in the choice of sites for which you place a link on your page(s).

Wow. This is really something. To be a crime this page indicates there must be an ACT (the creation and publication of the link) and INTENT to promote illegal activity.

My perception is that the above policy is pretty draconian. I wonder if other universities and educational institutions have similar policies? This UK Register article from May 2005 entitled “Fearless Feds sink Star Wars pirate website” includes a link (now defunct apparently) to Elitetorrents.org. (Note I am not linking that here!)

So the aforementioned university computing policy means that if someone DOES create a link on a webpage (on a blog or anywhere) to a site like this, and someone perceives that in posting that link the person has the INTENT to promote illegal copying, the link poster is violating copyright law themselves?!?! I am not a lawyer, but my understanding of copyright law gives me the perception that this may not be true. It sure would be good to clarify this, however, since the above statement is a current/established policy at one institution and may be for others.

This is another example of educational organizations seeking to create perceptions of fear among users to modify behavior, which I have written about previously. I am not advocating for illegal file sharing or copyright violations. I am an advocate for better education on intellectual property issues, however, and this situation certainly falls into that category.

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