Testcard.tv taken down as Police swoop on TV-Links

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New Web TV startup Testcard.tv, which drew heavily on the TV-Links site closed by the Police this week for alleged copyright infringement, has been taken down for “site maintenance”. UPDATE: Testcard.tv has now clarified its position, releasing a statement that the site was withdrawn by its owners pending a time when “further information is available in relation to the legal framework in which online tv aggregators such as testcard.tv operate”. There is no suggestion that Testcard.tv was implicated or involved in the case surrounding TV-Links.

Testcard launched its site on October 8 after a month-long trial, acting as an aggregator or indexer of content that is hosted on third party platforms such as Google Video, YouTube and mainstream broadcasters. But the bulk of its content appeared to most casual observers to come from TV Links, which pointed to both legally available and illegally uploaded content. The allegation was also made by TV-Links in a TechCrunch UK comment.

TV-links, the UK’s best known volunteer-driven database of free streaming TV shows and movies, was closed down and one of it’s key organisers arrested on Thursday.

The site had been targeted by authorities for allowing users to stream illegal versions of major Hollywood hits and TV shows. It did not actually host downloadable material, as its disclaimer states.

The Federation Against Copyright Theft (Fact) were crowing over the news yesterday. Fact claims that TV Links was providing links to illegal film content that had been camcorder recorded from cinemas and then uploaded to the internet.

A 26-year-old man from Cheltenham was arrested on Thursday in connection with offences relating to the facilitation of copyright infringement on the internet, Fact said. The move followed an operation by officers from Gloucestershire County Council trading standards in conjunction with investigators from Fact and Gloucestershire Police.

One blogger said they were on TV Links when the site was taken down. Many observers will be bemused that the police took down a site which merely contained links, when the hosters of the actual content, legal and copyrighted, have not been affected.

As Jack Scholfield from The Guardian points out: “There are a couple of multibillionaires called Larry Page and Sergey Brin — the founders of Google — who provide vast numbers of links to content that is being illegally distributed. Indeed, as everyone knows, they actually host plenty of illegal content on their own video site, YouTube, which has a UK operation…. It will be interesting to see who FACT picks on next. There are plenty of newspaper journalists who nowadays, as part of their proper jobs, link to YouTube videos and other internet content.”

I assume that Fact would argue that it was the aggregation of these links which was the problem. Google beware, I guess…

  • http://blog.snipperoo.com Ivan Pope

    Good grief – the shame of it. Plod strikes again in the service of the corportes, and misses the target. Anyone forming up a support group?

  • Candy Matterson

    Yep. I think we owe the poor guy who was arrested a drink,or a collection for his bail. I was keeping up to date with shows I had missed on TV. I am really sorry for him he was a gent.

  • Jessie Anderson

    I’m sure he can afford his own bail. The site was probably getting a stunning amount of traffic and thus ad revenue.

    Seems a bit of a lame excuse to point his finger at youtube and google. They might be hosting some of the videos, but it’s not as if they’re pro-actively facilitating piracy like him.

  • http://uk.techcrunch.com/2007/10/21/tioticom-wins-seven-figures-from-pond/ TechCrunch UK » Blog Archive » Tioti.com wins ’seven figures’ from Pond

    […] TC40 « Previous episode […]

  • http://www.testcard.tv/ Simon

    Hi – I’m an investor in Testcard Limited – the company behind the http://www.testcard.tv service.

    To clarity the situation – testcard.tv has NOT been taken down by the police. No communications have been received by Testcard Limited from the police or any authority.

    Testcard Limited has made a decision, following news that a similar service in the UK has been taken down by authorities, that as it wishes to operate within the framework of UK law it will operate the testcard.tv in an ‘Under Maintenance’ mode until there is further clarity on that framework.

    For more information please see http://www.testcard.tv/


  • Mike Butcher

    Simon Grice – I have updated the story to include Testcard’s clarification.

  • http://www.testcard.tv/ Simon

    Thanks – the headline is still a little misleading but appreciate the update.


  • Ian

    At this time, Google has around 8,000 pages from TV-Links indexed _and_ cached.

  • http://www.testcard.tv/ Simon

    Mike – Testcard TV is hosting a conversation on the Testcard TV Blog.


    Should online tv aggregators be illegal?

    Your readers are more than welcome to join us there as we’d very much value an informed debate.


  • Mike

    This is B.S. So we can’t watch classic tv shows and movies “legally” by purchasing them on dvd because they won’t re-release a lot of them, and now we can’t watch them on the one website that had them to watch for free. I guess we all have to just give up on the classics and let them die with our past generations.

  • sasha

    I used Tv Links to watch Prison Break as I don’t have sky,not everyone can afford sky.Now I will have to wait a year until season 3 comes out on dvd.

  • Alan Campbell

    I often help to administer on a uk based sight which offered links to films and television on sites such Youtube, Veoh and tudou. From today my fellow administrators will be removing these links after taking legal advice. However, it was the opinion of the business law experts that they saw that FACT will struggle to actually prosecute the owner of TV-Links, especially as there are rumours that Google will offer legal help. The loss of TV-links is a sad day for those of us who thought we had some decent freedom on the web.

  • http://humanopinion.org/support_for_tvlinks Gary

    The UK tech industry should be ashamed of itself. If this was a site anywhere else the tech industry would have plastered this news all over the front pages on most news and blog sites.

    Lets face it, tv-links.co.uk was the UK startup industry’s best star, position 182 in Alexa ranks, other than Bebo what UK startup has managed that?

    The UK tech industry should be supporting tv-links.co.uk 100%, whether they are doing something illegal or not. They has not been found guilty YET. However, if the UK tech industry does not rally support for these types of cases, we will our ability to compete in the Internet landscape slowly being eroded away. This could be a landmark case and any person in the UK industry should be supporting and watching the proceedings.

    There should be fair and proportional representation, tv-links.co.uk should have the best possible legal support in this issue, not to necessarily get them off the hook, but more importantly to ensure that legal precedents pushed through under the industry’s nose. Any legal UK precedents that are set in the Internet sphere should be of interest to all of the UK IT industry.

    Unfortunately, there is not a great deal of substantial of validate detail surrounding this case, so the picture of what is actually happening in not totally clear. I have emailled FACT but as of yet have heard nothing back yet.

    What is needed is this case is the UK industry to support tv-links.co.uk and ensure that any that legal action that is undertaken is done so fairly and legal precedent is not set that may come back to bite the UK industry in the future.

    It is hard to see how UK enterpernuers will be able to compete in the Internet landscape if the playing field is not level. Perhaps FACT has not carried out similar operations on Google’s UK operation or youtube as they would have an extensive legal battle on their hands, with almost unlimited resources fighting it.

    We have started a ChipIn to raise money for tv-links.co.uk legal defense, unfortunately we have only raised $110 so far, hopefully the UK tech industry will realise that we had better start taking an interest in our fellow UK startup issues, because if we do not, they may be ours at some point.


  • http://www.testcard.tv Simon

    I admire the spirit.
    Can you contact me – simon [at] testcard.tv

    Take a look at http://www.testcard.tv too.


  • Alan Campbell

    I thought this might be of interest. It comes from the press release pages on veoh.com (http://www.veoh.com/corporate/aboutUs.html). Veoh like Dailymotion.com, hosted many of the videos linked to http://www.tv-links.co.uk, and both sites are involved in the press release.

    Press Releases
    Internet and Media Industry Leaders Unveil Principles to Foster Online Innovation While Protecting Copyrights

    October 18, 2007

    Several of the world’s leading Internet and media companies today announced their joint support for a set of collaborative principles that enable the continued growth and development of user-generated content online and respect the intellectual property of content owners.

    The principles serve as a comprehensive set of guidelines to help user-generated content (UGC) services and content creators work together towards their collective goal of bringing more content to more consumers through legitimate channels. The principles acknowledge a collective respect for protecting copyrights and recognize that filtering technologies must be effective and are only a part of what is necessary to achieve this goal.

    The companies supporting these principles include CBS Corp., Dailymotion, Fox Entertainment Group, Microsoft Corp., MySpace, NBC Universal, Veoh Networks Inc., Viacom Inc. and The Walt Disney Company.

    The principles, which are attached and available in full at http://www.ugcprinciples.com, call for a broad range of constructive and cooperative efforts by copyright owners and UGC services. They include:

    Implementation of state of the art filtering technology with the goal to eliminate infringing content on UGC services, including blocking infringing uploads before they are made available to the public;
    Upgrading technology when commercially reasonable;
    Cooperating to ensure that the technology is implemented in a manner that effectively balances legitimate interests, including fair use;
    Cooperation in developing procedures for promptly addressing claims that content was blocked in error;
    Regularly using the technology to remove infringing content that was uploaded before the technology could block it;
    Identification and removal of links to sites that are clearly dedicated to, and predominantly used for, the dissemination of infringing content; and,
    Promotion of content-rich, infringement-free services by continuing to cooperatively test new technologies and by collaboratively updating these principles as appropriate to keep current with evolving developments.

  • http://uk.techcrunch.com/2007/10/23/another-site-busted-by-the-brits-it-makes-you-proud/ TechCrunch UK » Blog Archive » Another site busted by the Brits. It makes you proud

    […] has been closed and a 24-year old man from Middlesborough arrested. Well, it makes a change from arresting 26 year old men from Cheltenham. They do say a change is as good as a […]

  • Charlotte Berry

    I am really disappointed at what has happened with the closure of uk based aggravators such as TV-LINKS and ProjectFreeTv. Also, both sbwebspace.com and Testcard.tv have supspened their services. However, there is one site that appears to be UK based and continuing on regardless. http://www.tv-video.net/ appears to both upload and host their videos and they reckon they do not support the violation of copyright because their videos are low resolution. Who are they trying kid? It is one of the most flimsy disclaimers you will ever come across. To become a VIP member of their site to get better quality videos you have to make a donation and I imagine that they are making a fair bit of money while a site like TV Links has bit the dust. There seems to be a complate lack of fairness in this copyright issue.

  • Charlotte Berry

    Here is a link to an interesting article from the Guardian about the billion dollar lawsuit that was filed by the owners of MTV and Comedy Central accusing Youtube of encouraging users to pirate copyright material. I imagine that a similar case in the UK is not too far away.


  • http://www.intruders.tv/ Eugene
  • http://uk.techcrunch.com/2008/02/19/tvcatchup-on-hold-after-broadcasters-weigh-in/ TechCrunch UK » Blog Archive » TVCatchup on hold after broadcasters weigh in

    […] for these sites does not look good. Testcard.tv is still ‘on hold’ after voluntarily shuttering its service in response to a Police raid on TV Links. Testcard.tv, put up by the owners of etribes drew heavily […]

  • http://intruders.tv/en-tech/mike-dixon-of-testcardtv-the-controversial-tv-aggregator/ Mike Dixon of testcard.tv – the controversial TV aggregator « en-tech

    […] host any of the content itself, should not be held liable for any copyright infringement. Others are not so […]

  • Passie

    It’s about time to declare war on the USA
    Who the heck do those idiots think they are
    They got HULU where only americans can watch
    Now the nasty patriots kill our chance to watch the same material.

    And what the heck do they have to say
    If the hosters just put up a page which is not american
    Then how the heck do they think they have the right to close it down
    When the net was invented then the inventer said all can use it as long as it was free
    Now those messed up americans make it all a buisness venture

    We pay our ISP to give us internet
    If the police take all free stuf down
    Then there is no more reason to pay our ISP
    Cos if there is nothing to do on the net
    Then who wants to be there
    ONLY those messed up comercial demons

    I’d say its time to crash the USA Gov network with a colective effort of some hackers
    The PEOPLE are the power in the word
    Not a stupid law system made up by corrupt politicians
    There are many many more of us then the amount of bilderberg members
    They are nothing ones we organize as population

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