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In a world where the internet contains copyrighted materials that were posted without the permission of the copyright holders, Playboy magazine is making an effort to hold an internet media company liable for posting a link to another person's online post (on a different web host) that allegedly infringes on Playboy's copyright, or maybe actually 746 of their copyrights.
The website Boing Boing posted an Imgur link to an archive of 746 Playboy Centerfolds and commented on how awesome it was to see the progression over the years. In response, Playboy filed a lawsuit alleging Boing Boing infringed upon their copyrights. However, Boing Boing, on a motion to dismiss, is arguing that linking is not copyright infringement.
It certainly does not feel very artist friendly to let large websites like Boing Boing post a link that infringes on the copyright of another without any consequences. However, in the context of this case, it certainly appears likely that Boing Boing was doing what many other internet bloggers do: link to content they did not produce and provide commentary upon it.
When you consider the fact that Boing Boing did not post the actual infringing images and were simply commenting upon what someone else had posted online, through a completely different website, it complicates the case significantly for Playboy. Although a direct infringement claim is a bit shaky in the U.S. based on the limited facts that have been reported, Playboy recently won a similar claim in the E.U. based upon linking.
As the EFF pointed out in their amici brief in support of Boing Boing, Playboy could (or as they contend, should) have pursued the actual infringer, the person who compiled the scanned images and posted them on Imgur. As many sources are reporting, if Playboy wins this case, it could have a grave impact for the online media business at large, as linking to content and commenting upon it is part and parcel of what the whole internet is about practically.