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

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 UPDATE: Testcard.tv has now clarified its position, releasing a statement that the site was withdrawn by its owners pending a time when “further information is available in relation to the legal framework in which online tv aggregators such as testcard.tv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…