Monday, October 03, 2005

COPYRIGH: Microsoft, Ticketmaster fight over "deep linking" -- no precedent

Because this case was settled out of court, it didn't set a precedent. But
since 1999, the practice of "deep linking" -- creating links in the deep,
lower-level pages of a site -- has become completely common and
unchallenged. What do you think "deep linking" does to the business of a
website which sells advertising on its "home page"?

MS, Ticketmaster Bury Hatchet
Wired News Report

2:10 p.m. 16.Feb.99.PST

USA Networks' Ticketmaster and Microsoft have settled their 2-year-old
lawsuit over how MSN's Sidewalk city guides link to the ticket
vendor's site.

"They settled on mutually agreeable terms," said Microsoft corporate
spokesman Tom Pilla. Further details were not released, but Sidewalk
no longer links deep within Ticketmaster Online. Instead, surfers are
pointed to the site's home page, where they must find their events on
their own.

A Microsoft executive told The New York Times Monday that an
unannounced 22 January settlement prohibits Microsoft's Sidewalk
guides from linking deep into the ticket seller's site.

The Ticketmaster-Microsoft squabble arose in early 1997, after
Ticketmaster formed an interactive alliance with the Sidewalk rival
CitySearch to provide ticketing and event information and services.

Ticketmaster has since merged its online operations with CitySearch to
form Ticketmaster Online-CitySearch, a company that went public in
December. A company spokeswoman could not be reached for comment.

Ticketmaster objected to the Sidewalk links as "cherry-picking" on its
content. Though Ticketmaster said at the time that the suit was
unrelated to its CitySearch deal, the Microsoft links could clearly be
seen as devaluing the content that Ticketmaster was providing to

Microsoft contended that the open nature of the Internet -- and the
First Amendment's guarantee of free speech -- allowed it to link to
any site it wished, and said Ticketmaster ought to be happy that it
was sending business its way.

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