Monday, October 03, 2005
COPYRIGHT: "Linking" is not copyright violation, court decided in 2000
This was a key decision. It was the first time any federal court had ruled
on whether one can create a raw link to a website without violating that
website's copyright. I've always seen this as similar to giving out
somebody's phone number. This court agreed, and there have been no
further challenges to the practice.
11:25 AM ET 03/29/00
Judge OKs Links to Rival Web Sites
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A federal judge ruled that online companies can legally offer links to rival Web sites, a service many new Internet firms use to attract new users.
The ruling was in favor of upstart Tickets.com, which was the defendant in
a lawsuit filed by Ticketmaster Online-CitySearch Inc. that alleged so-called ``hyperlinking'' should be banned. Both companies offer tickets to numerous events that consumers can purchase directly over their respective Web sites.
Links to competitors' Web pages have proven to be a service that boosts the traffic to smaller Internet companies, but the links often lead directly to a page deep within the rival site.
While companies may benefit by more customers using their service, hyperlinking to deep pages allows users to bypass the ``front page'' area that contains advertising Web companies rely on for revenue.
``If we spend substantial money to build up a site, why should they be able to take that and build their business on the backs of our hard work?'' Ticketmaster attorney Robert Platt argued.
Officials with Ticketmaster.com, a unit of tickets leader Ticketmaster Online-CitySearch in Pasadena, hoped the lawsuit against Costa Mesa-based Tickets.com would protect its site from such unauthorized incursions.
However, U.S. District Judge Harry Hupp dismissed four counts of Ticketmaster's claim, writing that ``deep linking by itself . . . does not necessarily involve unfair competition.'' Hupp said hyperlinking was not illegal as long as consumers understand whose site they are on and that one company has not simply duplicated another's page.
Tickets.com praised Monday's decision, saying it would clear the way for other new Internet companies to engage in hyperlinking. ``They are an open site and are a member of the free Internet community,'' Tickets.com attorney Daniel Harris said of Ticketmaster. ``They have to live by the rules of that community asit has grown up.''
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