Legal Limits of Web Links

February 2006
by Reid Goldsborough

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If interactivity is the defining characteristic of the Internet in general, linking is the defining characteristic of the Web in particular. By creating hypertext documents and including links to related information within or outside their sites, people can greatly multiply the information they provide.

Anybody who uses the Web becomes quickly aware of these links. But you may not be aware that there are different types of links and that some can create legal liability for both business and personal sites.

Stop, Thief!

The most common type of external Web link takes you to the opening or home page of another Web site, whose owners are usually appreciative. This is the sort of linking that Google and other Web search engines use to determine which Web sites they list first.
Being included among the first page of sites returned in a Google search can be crucial for a site’s success.

But some links aren’t as appreciated. Think of Web sites that link not to the home page of another site but to an image or to text within that site, and make it seem that this content is an integral part of their own sites. Links of this sort—typically referred to as direct links or inline links—and the practice of using them are sometimes referred to as bandwidth theft….IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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