The World Wide Web depends on HTML links, tags that allow web page authors to connect their texts with others and enable web surfers to move from one web page to another document to which it refers. These links are what set hypertext apart from static offline texts.
Some of you may have heard about or even received a cease and desist notice regarding hyperlinks on your website. Some companies claim that linking to their websites requires prior permission, or allege that your links falsely imply that they sponsor or endorse your site. Other companies may assert trademark infringement based on the words and images you use in hyperlinks. You may be told that you are violating the law because your site links to illegal or copyrighted material, even if you do not host any of that material on your own servers. What about “deep linking,” when you set a link to an inside page, not the websites homepage?
So is linking illegal?
There have been a number of lawsuits claiming copyright infringement (including a lawsuit involving Ticketmaster and Tickets.com). But so far, courts have found that deep links to web pages were neither a copyright infringement nor a trespass.
Next post – Can linking be trademark infringement? What should you do to protect your business?