Re(2): Permission for linking to Web sites

Subject: Re(2): Permission for linking to Web sites
From: Jan Henning <henning -at- r-l -dot- de>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 14 Aug 2002 10:53:52 +0200


>You can link to public web sites as much as you want to. The only problem
>you might encounter is if the web site opens within a frame of YOUR Web
>site. some folks take offense at that as it looks like their content is your
>content. As long the linked-to site has the whole browser, you're good to
>go.

This is not entirely precise, though a fiar basic assessment. The
following list contains some potential pitfalls. Note that they are based
on the German legal system; they may or may not be unproblematic in the
US. Also, this list is most likely incomplete.

- Deep linking. This has been mentioned elsewhere and is also an issue in
the US: Some websites object to linking to any other place than the top
page (or one of a group of top pages) because otherwise the traffic
following the link bypasses someor all of the ads on the website, cutting
into the revenues.

Although there still seems to be some ambiguity in this area, these
websites are probably within their rights to forbid deep linking. Better
avoid it if you want to play it safe.

- Competition issues. In Germany, companies have been found guilty of
unfair competition by linking to websites of competitors without making
the distinctions sufficiently clear. I imagine that an enterprising
lawyer (no shortage of those!) could at least try something similar in the US.

- Illegal content. Websites linking to illegal content may become
responsible for that content. For exmaple, if you link to a website with
slanderous articles, you may be held to have been slandering as well. In
Germany, it usually is enough to include a disclaimer along the lines of
"This link is just for informational purposes. We do not share the
opinions expressed on the linked site.". This may or may not be enough in
the US; if you are worried about this, best get legal advice.

If none of the exceptions hold, however, Andrew's comment above seems to
be correct: You can link to any website you like. I am not aware of a
case where it has been found that a website has the right to reserve
approval for links to it.

Hope this helps
Jan Henning

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Jan Henning
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Am Schlossberg 14, D-82547 Eurasburg, Germany

Phone: +49 700 0200 0700, Fax: +49 8179 9307-12
E-Mail: henning -at- r-l -dot- de, Web: www.r-l.de
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References:
RE: Permission for linking to Web sites: From: Andrew Dugas

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