But I raised the question because softpedia could provide nearly the same service without actually hosting the copyrighted material (as Brawl said above). By building their site around links to the source (instead of hosting),
The proper way to do this is linking to the web page of the copyright holder containing the content. The improper way to do this is hotlinking, i.e. directly providing the download link. It is frowned upon in Internet land, not only because you're stealing away the page hits, but also because you're letting them handle the traffic for the downloads nonetheless.
For what it's worth, hotlinking isn't a likely choice a company like Softpedia would use, for at least one very good reason: they have no control over the actual content of the link. It may be removed, leading to pages with broken download links; it could also be replaced with something unrelated or malicious, which would be detrimental to the popularity of the website.
they could still have game reviews, show screenshots of the games, have game ratings,etc. All that would be considered "fair use" under the commentary and criticism clause.
You'll agree that game reviews with screenshots and ratings are, at least, content they have provided on their own and are therefore perfectly entitled to earn from.
Edited by Smarty, 25 January 2012 - 12:10 PM.