CPT's Hypertext Linking Dispute Page

Resources on Linking

  • The Trans-Atlantic Consumer Dialogue's (TACD) February, 2000 Statement on Linking. This is a shorter version of an earlier proposal.
  • Stefan Bechtold's extensive Link Controversy Page. This is an excellent place to start researching linking disputes.

    Recent Disputes Involving Linking

    Also see CPT's page on Cyberspace Jurisdiction for more relevant disputes.

    Microsoft vs. Slashdot

    On May 2, 2000, Slashdot posted an article describing Microsoft's proprietary extensions to the Kerberos standard. Several Slashdot users posted hyperlinks to Microsoft's Kerberos specifications. Invoking the 1998 U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), Microsoft sent Slashdot a May 10th letter alleging a "case of blatant copyright violation," and requested that Slashdot remove readers' posts containing the hyperlinks. Slashdot refused to remove the posts.

    Also see:

  • May 12, 2000. Graham Lea. MS Kerberos assault - Slashdot's defence avenues. The Register.
  • May 12, 2000. Annie Kermath. Microsoft picks fight with Slashdot. The Register.
  • May 11, 2000. Microsoft Asks Slashdot to Remove Readers' Posts. Slashdot.
  • The Methamphetamine Anti-Proliferation Act

    The Methamphetamine Anti-Proliferation Act of 1999 seeks to crack down on the spread of illegal methamphetamines (speed).

    Section 203 of the Senate version includes language that would force ISP's to yank websites hosting methamphetamine-related content, or linking to such content.

    Here is a link to the Senate version of the act, S.486.
    Here is a link to the House version of the act, H.R.2987

    Also See:

  • May 9, 2000. Declan McCullagh. Bill Criminalizes Drug Links. Wired News.
  • MPAA vs. 2600
    2600 is a quarterly magazine and website specializing in hacker issues. 2600 The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has filed suit against 2600 in an attempt to prevent them from linking to websites featuring DeCSS -- a program for circumventing DVD encryption. The movie studios won a ruling that prohibited 2600 not only from posting DeCSS on its own website, but from linking to other websites hosting the program.

    2600's editor commented on the implications of the ruling on August 21, 2000 (article referenced below):

    "Naturally, one of the most disturbing parts of all of this is the ruling on linking. 'The only distinction is that the entity extending to the user the option of downloading the program is the transferee site rather than defendants, a distinction without a difference.' We can all laugh at such words but they represent something very sinister. We are now expected to believe that telling someone how to get a file with a link is the same as offering it yourself. I want to know if this works both ways - if I point someone to a site or product that costs money, is that also a 'distinction without a difference' that will allow me to be compensated? This kind of logic is already giving me nightmares."

    Also See:

  • August 21, 2000. Emmanuel Goldstein. Analysis of the Decision Against 2600. 2600 News.
  • August 17, 2000. Declan McCullagh. Studios Score DeCSS Victory. Wired News.
  • May 5, 2000. Ben Berkowitz. MPAA v. 2600: Access to Information is Not a Crime. Onlinejournalism.com.
  • May 5, 2000. Discussion of Berkowitz's commentary. . Slashdot.
  • May 4, 2000. EFF Challenges Ban on DVD Software. Electronic Frontier Foundation.
  • April 28, 2000. Carl S. Kaplan. First Amendment Lawyer Takes on Movie Studios in DVD Case. Cyber Law Journal/ New York Times.
  • April 6, 2000. MPAA Seeks to Outlaw Linking to DeCSS. 2600 News.
  • April 5, 2000. Patricia Jacobus. Movie group renews accusations in DVD cracking case. CNET News.
  • January 7, 2000. Carl S. Kaplan. DVD Lawsuit Questions Legality of Linking. Cyber Law Journal/ New York Times.
  • Linking Found Illegal in Japan

    On March 30, the District Court of Osaka, Japan ruled that linking to a webpage containing illegal content may be considered illegal.

    Also see:

  • April 7, 2000. Kazumi Tanaka. Web Links Can Be Considered Illegal, Osaka Court Judgement Says. Asia BizTech.

  • Ticketmaster Corp., et al. v. Tickets.com, Inc.

    March 27, 2000 "Further, hyperlinking does not itself involve a violation of the Copyright Act (whatever it may do for other claims) since no copying is involved, the customer is automatically transferred to the particular genuine web page of the original author. There is no deception in what is happening. This is analogous to using a library's card index to get reference to particular items, albeit faster and more efficiently."

    Also see:

  • March 29, 2000. Judge OK's deep hyperlinking. AP/ USA Today.
  • Shetland Times v. Wills

    This early linking dispute concerned the websites of two newspapers -- The Shetland Times and The Shetland News. The Shetland News website contained hyperlinks that led directly to articles posted on the Times' website. These hyperlinks included the text of the appropriate Times headlines. The Times contended that these hyperlinks constituted copyright infringement.

    On November 11, 1997, The Times and the News reached a settlement which permitted the News to link to the Time's articles on the condition that each such link contained a representation of the Shetland Times' masthead, and was underscored with the caption "A Shetland Times Story."

    Also see:

  • Great Britain: The Shetland Times v. The Shetland News. (this is a comprehensive summary of the entire dispute, including a chronology).
  • 1998. James P. Connolly. Fair Dealing in Webbed Links of Shetland Yarns.
  • Linking in the News

  • April 6, 2000, Damian Cave, Can hyperlinks be outlawed?, Salon.
  • April 6, 2000, MPAA Seeks to Outlaw Linking to DeCSS. 2600 News.
  • April 5, 2000, Andy Patrizio, MPAA Sues to Stop DeCSS Linking, Wired News.
  • March 30, 2000, Michelle Finley, Attention Editors: Deep Link Away. Wired News.
  • August 12, 1999, Scott Rosenberg, Don't link or I'll sue!, Salon.
  • July 27, 1999, Oscar S. Cisneros, Universal: Don't Link to Us, Wired News.
    Questions, comments and suggestions to Vergil Bushnell vbushnell@cptech.org

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