Whatever you do, don't link to our website

Would you believe that in 2010, there are still websites that forbid linking to them? If you think it's odd to try and prevent others pointing to pages they've made freely accessible to the public, it's odder still to see who is doing it. For example, The Independent, an ad-supported newspaper whose business requires and promotes exactly this sort of inbound linkage, says that "Third parties must not deep-link to" any part of the website. The Times' recently paywalled website doesn't even want you to send potential customers its way: "linking to the Website is prohibited." Malcolm Coles offers a selection of similarly bizarre and unenforceable terms posted by websites. Read the rest

Iceland's paper of record bans linking

MorgunblaĆ°iĆ°, 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!) Read the rest

Texas court says deep-linking is copyright infringement

In an update to Xeni's post last month, Out-Law.com reports that the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas found a website owner guilty of copyright infringement for linking to an another website's audio file without permission
[Robert Davis, who runs Supercrosslive.com] argued that he did not actually copy any material, he only provided a link to it which opened the material in a user's media player, but the court ruled that that link broke the law.

"The court finds that the unauthorized 'link' to the live webcasts that Davis provides on his website would likely qualify as a copied display or performance of SFX’s copyrightable material," said Lindsay. "The court also finds that the link Davis provides on his website is not a 'fair use' of copyright material as Davis asserts through his Answer."

Link (Thanks, Kelly!) Read the rest

Cory on fan-made radio podcasts: "What deep linking means."

My co-editor Cory Doctorow weighs in on the debate surrounding This American Life's decision to tell fans that they may not publish podcast code pointing to archived audio files hosted on TAL's website. Previous BB posts: one, two, three, and here Cory responds to arguments posed by "Radio Open Source" producer Brendan Greeley. Both TAL and ROS are distributed by Public Radio International (PRI). Cory says:
Brendan, I was disappointed to see your letter to Xeni in which you argued that deep-linking should be prohibited. The question of whether a copyright holder has the right to control who gets to publish the location of his files is a simple one to answer: he should not. If you believe that a copyright holder has to the right to decide who is allowed to tell you where his publicly available files live, you're saying that all the other user rights in copyright -- parody, samplying, criticism, etc -- are necessarily at the rightholder's sufferance. These rights can't be exercised without the fundamental freedom to repeat the true fact about the location of this file or that. You -- and everyone else who borrows liberally from the blogosphere, myself included -- are a tremendous beneficiary of the principle that has prevailed since the first web-page went live: no one can control inbound linking by legal means. This is in the RFC for the Web. It's in the RFC for the RSS. I don't buy for one second the argument that because this challenges your ability to turn your radio program into something else, the entire web should change directions and adopt a new norm: "You may only include a hyperlink if the person who controls that file isn't worried about his business-model." There are LOTS of people who could have new business-models if fundamental internet freedoms, like the freedom to link to any URL that will serve back a page, were abolished or rewritten.
Read the rest