Re: LAW: Legality of deep linking to Web sites

From: Harvey Newstrom (
Date: Fri Jan 19 2001 - 13:22:09 MST

>Does anyone know what the law says about "deep linking". Say you
>write some comments on an article appearing on a magazine's Web
>page, and you link directly to the article. (The article appears in
>a new browser, exactly as it would appear if the viewer had gone
>there directly.)
>What if the magazine sent you a Cease and Desist letter, and told
>you that it did not permitting linking to its content (which is
>freely open to the public), only to its main page?
>This sounds ridiculous to me. The magazine would be turning away
>freely given traffic that it would otherwise not receive. What I'm
>really interested in is not so much the silliness of such a policy,
>but whether an online magazine can legally enforce such a claim. I
>would think the law does *not* support this, but sometimes "the law
>is an ass", so I'm asking the many-brained List if it knows the law
>in this area.
>I can't imagine telling someone, "No, no, I don't permit you to link
>to The Extropian Principles. You may only link to my home page."

I do not know the law in this area, but that won't stop me from answering!

As an IT consultant, I have seen about a dozen clients either sue
another company for linking to them or get sued for linking to other
sites. I do not think the law has a clear-cut answer, but I know
that lawsuits will occur if the web-sites link to other sites that do
not want to be linked.

Many web-sites make money from advertising or other services offered
from their main page. If you link directly to the content, you are
extracting the benefit of their enticement without giving them the
benefit of having a visitor view their main page. They feel that
this is unfair use of their efforts while robbing them of the benefit
of a potential customer. They would claim that this would be like
rebroadcasting a TV show without the commercials, or picking up your
"free gift" without listening to the sales pitch. Such sites to not
really intend to provide their content to the public. As they get
more sophisticated, such sites usually require free registration,
personalized logins or some other gimmick to force users to go
through the top level.

Such sites can take legal or technical actions to block the linking
if they want. The battle may not be worth the linking, and any
successful linking may not last for long. I would suggest linking to
the top level while giving specific directions on how to find the
article from there. E.g, visit and enter "extropians" in
the search box.

Harvey Newstrom <>

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Mon May 28 2001 - 09:56:20 MDT