Re: legality of web links to articles?

Subject: Re: legality of web links to articles?
From: Kelley <kwalker2 -at- gte -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 12 Feb 2002 11:54:41 -0500

At 08:07 AM 2/12/02 -0700, Caitlin Gannon wrote:

Is there any reason why I can't put a link to a Business Week article or
Internet World or whatever? I'd think they'd like the traffic, but these
days copyright is so closely held I'd hate to do something illegal. And
asking every editor for permission is not exactly a possibility. In
addition to being webmaster, I'm also trainer and course developer and
documenter, so it's a wonder I get anything done.

I agree with you that, at first blush, it seems strange that sites based on an advertising model might not appreciate being linked to. (Security Focus is a site that prefers linking and doesn't sell reprint rights based on such a model.)

BUT, the idea that they would want to be linked to is based on the advertising model, where hit counts justify advertising rates. This is changing. Increasingly, they're experimenting with different ways to generate revenue. From their perspective, you're using _their_ content in order to boost the perceived value of your site. For some, that's lost revenue. For the attorneys, if they let you do it, they have a more difficult time telling a more controversial site that they can't link to them. I have my own political views on this issue, but that's not up for grabs at the moment.

About two years ago, a client's attorneys held up a project for about month over the issue. I finally said, "whatever! Getting permission to link seems strange to me. But, I'd like to move on..." Sadly, the attorneys were right.

-=- It turned out that 1/3 explicitly rejected linking and stated
this in their copyright/terms of use policies. I didn't bother.

-=- Another 1/3 of the sites explicitly stated that linking is allowed.

About half of them wanted you to send them notice that you would
be linking. Gartner has a form to submit a query. This allows them
the option of saying, "No, Mr. Owner of,
you can't link to Gartner." :)

-=- Another 1/3 were ambiguous in their language; I wrote them. About
1/4 said "No". This was mainly because the link would bypass their
front page. They wanted main page traffic. The rest said, "Sure!"

I typed up a generic query that showed them _how_ the link would be used. I modified it when necessary and mailed it out to sites that I planned on (hoped to) link to. It's not terribly time consuming. Once you get permissions, you're all set.

You will, though, be responsible for periodically reviewing their policies. You'll notice in the legalese that it's _your_ responsibility to keep up with policy changes.

In the end, most of these folks will just send a nastygram when their policy changes or if you've misunderstood their policy. Just remove the link. I can't see how it's worth fighting over it.

Here are the sites that agreed to linking, but I had to write:


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