You may want to think twice the next time you share a link to your favorite video.
In a case against a New York website owner, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is claiming that merely linking to copyrighted material is a crime.
DHS, along with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), seized Brian McCarthy's domain, channelsurfing.net, in late January. The site has now been replaced with a government warning: "This domain has been seized by ICE - Homeland Security Investigations, Special Agent in Charge, New York Office."
"It is unlawful to reproduce copyrighted material, such as movies, music, software or games, without authorization... First-time offenders convicted of a criminal felony copyright law will face up to five years in federal prison, restitution, forfeiture and fine."
The advocacy group Demand Progress has claimed that McCarthy never reproduced copyrighted material, and that his website simply linked to other sites.
A criminal complaint obtained by the group seems to acknowledge that agents knew that McCarthy was running a "linking website."
"Based on my participation in the investigation leading to the February 2011 Seizure, I know that Channelsurfing.net was a 'linking' website," special agent Daniel Brazier wrote in the complaint.