Iceland's paper of record bans linking

Morgunblaðið, Iceland's oldest newspaper and most-visited website (now co-edited by the former prime minister and head of the central bank) has just announced an anti "deep linking" policy saying that Icelanders aren't allowed to link to individual pages on the site, only the front door. Which is to say, the people of Iceland can no longer talk about any news online unless it happens to still be on the front page of the newspaper. Ah, there's the commitment to public service that makes journalism so critical to a free society! (Thanks, Halli!)


  1. It’ll be just like an artist, architect or photographer website. Will they go to all Flash, as well?

  2. Well it does say, repeated and systematic use of direct links, which I don’t think would apply in cases of casual references in discussions about news online.

  3. It doesn’t matter how repeated or systematic it is, the entire idea of a unilateral thinkwrap contract that says you can’t tell people the location of a publicly accessible website is completely stupid.

    1. Yes, it is a stupid idea, but if it’s not the idea expressed on the site then it’s just a straw man.

  4. “Heimilt er að vísa til forsíðu heimasíðunnar ef heimildar er getið. Hins vegar er endurtekin og kerfisbundin notkun tengla, þ.m.t. djúptengla, þar sem vísað er til einstakra frétta eða annars efnis óheimil.”

    this means (proper translation, not google)
    The frontpage may be linked/referred to(questionable wording) if the source is mentioned. Repeated and systematic use of links, including deep links, where a certain piece of news or other material is referred to is forbidden.

    I see repeated and systematic use as being applicable to pretty much anyone who uses this a lot, like linking to facebook.
    And I’ve sent them a letter.

    They’ve completely overreacted to the online news aggregators (there are a few in iceland which are quite popular, partly due to Mbl making a very unpopular move last year by hiring the former leader of the conservative party (who was also head of the national bank/treasury when the economic collapse came) as their senior editor.

    1. arkizzle, you’re confusing arikol’s interpretation with the translation. The key phrase which qualifies their deep-linking (as well as hot-linking, etc) policy is “repeated and systematic”. Arikol maintains that this might include casual linking on something like Facebook, and I disagree.

      The stupidity or otherwise of seeking to ban news aggregators and the like from linking to one’s site is another discussion, but it’s manifestly not the case that they’re seeking to ban everyone (or even just Icelanders) from deep linking.

  5. The vagueness in their wording is what puts me off.

    They mention “repeated” and “systematic” misuse, which is not fully explained. Posting one link to Facebook is then okay (I guess?), but posting another link three days later will under some definition mean “repeated”, and then not allowed.

    They also mention that “electronic copies” of news items are allowed for personal use, but, again, don’t explain what personal use means in this case. Facebook posting, for me, is personal.

    In no way do I feel an entitlement being able to repeat material posted by others (in this case Morgunblaðið), but they are a bleeping newspaper after all, reporting news (or so I hope) — therefore I agree with davenewman, this is unethical, and plain stupid.

  6. Stooge,
    the stupid portion is the “can’t tell people the location of a publicly accessible website” part. It matters not at all whether one is “repeatedly and systematically” doing so.

    1. Exactly!

      Just imagine if these same rules applied to the printed edition of any news source.

      That means, in a way, that you couldn’t really discuss the NY Times sunday edition at a coffee house (you’d be repeatedly mentioning (linking) verbally to content), or tell your friend where to find the engaging article or interview or discussion or anything of the sort.

      You could, however, say “It’s in the Times,” and let your friend just find it.

      I know I’m taking this far, but all this vagueness allows for all sorts of interpretation. This is just one.

  7. bongabonga, yes, it is vague, and deliberately so, just as some of Boingboing’s policies are: “Offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or disemvoweled.”
    Offensive to whom? What constitutes inappropriate? How many SI units of annoyingness is that? “May be”? Will they or won’t they?
    I guess someone could try to spell all this stuff out explicitly, but there are always specific circumstances which you will not have considered when compiling your behavioural blacklist, so definitions are left somewhat on the broad side to allow for discretion.

    As for your hypothetical discussion in a coffee house, if you were repeatedly and systematically referencing the contents of a newspaper, the manager would probably ask you to leave before everyone else did.

    sleve, just so you know, if you repeatedly and systematically post that link here, you’ll probably find Boing Boing’s moderators will get upset with you a whole lot more quickly than Morgunblaðið does :)

    stanleyk, but that’s only stupid because it’s not true. Nowhere do they say ‘you cannot link to‘.

  8. This is no crusher for anyone. This newspaper is unfortunately not a viable source of news or commentary anymore. Sadly it has merely become former PM’s David Oddson’s personal megaphone of saving his own butt in regards to what has happened with Iceland’s financial collapse.

    It used to be THE paper. With a whopping subscription rate of 70% + of the country’s households. Now more and more Icelanders have turned their back on it. The last figure I read was more close to 20%.

    So in actual fact. They can have all the linking policies in the world, they just don’t matter anymore.

  9. Stooge,
    I’m Icelandic so I don’t need to rely on Google Translate.

    The pagte actually says that *all* deep links are forbidden – no exceptions are given.

    However, they do make a single exception for individuals – allowing them some form of direct “quotations”.

    That said, their linking policy a) is dumb, b) won’t hold up in court c) is nothing new, as they’ve been strictly conservative from the beginning, and d) is largely irrelevant since they’re no longer the “paper of record” they used to be.

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