[Home]Thoughts on deep linking

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>Some of the links on my page link to pages within the other site....

On Sat, 03 Mar 2001 22:35:46 +0000, Andy Dingley <dingbat@codesmiths.com> wrote on alt.html --

This is an issue called "Deep Linking", and it's really no big deal.

FACT: You can (technically) deep link and, the way that the web works, there is very little to stop you. Content providers who object need to fix this with technical solutions on their own server, as they've no other practical way of stopping it.

This is not a copyright issue. It would only be a copyright issue if you had "borrowed" content from the other site -- which naturally you haven't 8-)

It could be a trademark issue, if you enclose the other site's pages in a frame, or similar, such that it's legally regarded as "passing off" -- aiming to confuse users over your identity.

There have been anti-linking injunctions (Keystone springs to mind), but that was raised as a specific injunction to stop a particular site. It was also a ridiculous legal fix to a simple technical problem -- read Lawrence Lessig's excellent book "Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace" for why this is a bad idea. http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/046503912X/codesmiths

It may be a perfectly legal, but bad business practice, to do anything that annoys a partner organisation. Good honest theft is one thing, but why would anyone want to deliberately upset a partner when you weren't even trying to profit from the deal ? You might like to try and make this clear to the manager.

I always like to get a copy of the target site's affiliation document. I like this so much, that sometimes I help write it for them (using my own as a boilerplate), because very few sites have one already. This lists what the site supports linking to, and what the URLs will be. It's a handy guide to both parties, so that you can build sensible URLs that will carry on working reliably for many years. It's especially important on database-driven sites, or those with poor organisation.

A reasonable basis for discussion is that deep linking is "reasonable" when it's to any part of the site that a user might well bookmark for their own use. Direct shopping cart access might be forbidden, and bypassing login screens.

To cover your own back, get it in writing. Do this by asking your manager for a quick note with the list of exactly which links he'd like you to link to (as you're just a poor dumb peon, not a clever manager, and you need to be told such things). BTW - Recording the chain of command is a poor legal defence against a real copyright suit.

-- Smert' Spamionam

See http://www.internetnews.com/bus-news/article/0,,3_992371,00.html for the results of a California court case indicating that showing thumbnails of images captured from other sites of okay, but displaying the orginals from that site in one's own frame is a violation of copyright.

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Last edited March 20, 2002 7:21 am (diff)

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