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Can you freely link to other webpages from your website?

Tracy, CA |

I have a website in which I want people to be able to search jobs. Can I link webpages of jobs from other websites and put it on my website? I wont copy and paste the content on the other sites, but will just provide a link to their page.

Attorney Answers 6

Posted

Links such as you have described should not be a problem.

In the unlikely event that a site to which you link does complain, you can remove the link(s) to avoid a fight. Please see the post at the link below.

This information does not constitute legal advice and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.

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Posted

This is called "deep linking" and is usually permitted under the law. Moreover, the other websites to which you deep link will seldom object because their great desire is usually to have traffic to their website and you are helping them achieve that. Greater traffic usually translates into a higher rank on Google, although Google apparently uses many other factors in a very sophisticated ranking that is obviously the gold standard for search engines.

I am not your lawyer and you are not my client. Free advice here is without recourse and any reliance thereupon is at your sole risk. This is done without compensation as a free public service. I am licensed in IL, MO, TX and I am a Reg. Pat. Atty. so advice in any other jurisdiction is strictly general advice and should be confirmed with an attorney licensed in that jurisdiction.

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Posted

Hi, in general, this is ok. However, you should still consult an IP attorney. Here is a URL to a good article on the topic.

http://www.insidecounsel.com/2012/01/12/litigation-when-linking-creates-liability-for-dire

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Posted

Putting in links without copying any content from the original document should be fine; that's the purpose of the internet. You probably won't run into a problem unless you start trying to market your site by advertising that you carry their content. To avoid that, look at the marketing of sites like Kayak and Travelocity - they do what you're talking about very well, in the travel industry.

No information you obtain from this answer is legal advice, nor is it intended to be. You should consult an attorney for individualized advice regarding your situation. No attorney-client relationship is formed by my responding to your question.

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Posted

We need to be careful in response to this question because the law is different depending on the type of link being evaluated.

The article linked-to by Attorney Barman discusses only "hot links" [also called "inline links" and "embedded links"]. A hot link is code on one website that instructs an internet user's browser to access and display particular content that's resident on and served up from another website all without the browser leaving the website that contains the hotlink. In effect, the hot link is the means to "frame" content from a distant site in the webpage that's currently being viewed.

That "hot link" is opposed to a "hypertext link" that instructs an internet user's browser to stop viewing one website and to visit another [this is the typical, "normal" link such as the one used in Attorney Barman's response].

The legality of using hot links to pull content from distant sites is still an open question [at least among attorneys -- technologists assume it's lawful and have moved on].

As for "normal" hypertext links, however, I think publishing hypertext links is lawful, even w/o permission from the owner of the linked-to site, EXCEPT when the link takes an internet user to material that (1) infringes a copyright, (2) is obscene, (3) violates trade secret law, (4) is otherwise unlawful to publish [such as classified information], or (5) violates the linked-to site's terms of use agreement. That last category is squishy because its application is very fact specific -- and restricts hyperlinking when the linker KNOWS the linked-to site's TOS prohibits links to its site [or permits a link only to its homepage but not to any "deeper" pages].

You should discuss what you want to do with your own internet attorney. Good luck.

The above is general information ONLY and is not legal advice, does not form an attorney-client relationship, and should NOT be relied upon to take or refrain from taking any action. I am not your attorney. You should seek the advice of competent counsel before taking any action related to your inquiry.

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Posted

Most commentators believe that it is legal for one web-site to provide a link to another. Some say that this is the purpose of the internet, or its very essence. I may be in the minority on this, but I am not so sure this is always correct. The technical reason why people say that linking is legal is that the web-site that provides the link does not make a copy of the other web site's material, but just provides a code that permits a user to find the other web site's material. However, I believe the better view is that when one web-site provides a link to another, the code that is implanted in the text of the web-site is the equivalent of a copy of the material contained on the web-site which the code allows a user to reach. This is because the code allows an internet user to obtain access to and read the content on the other web-site and thus, is the equivalent of making a copy.

Moreover, there may be valid reasons why owners of a web-site might want to prohibit access to certain classes of users of other web-sites. For example, a web-site might want users from a pornographic web-site to be directed to it. A web-site that features politically liberal content may not want users from a web-site that promotes conservative view points. A web-site that features children-friendly content may not want to be featured on a web-site that features adult comment, believing that this might tarnish its image. One of the fundamental rights of a copyright owner is to control distribution his work to audiences and venues of his choosing, Unrestricted linking from one web-site to another interferes with the right to control distribution of copyrighted works. It also could be viewed as a form of trademark infringement, since the party who posts the link is attempting to benefit by associating his web-site with another source of information.

Courts have been all over the map on this issue. The best argument in favor of allowing free linking is based on a theory of implied consent---that anyone who operates a web-site impliedly consents to allow other web-sites to link to its content. Content holders who want to restrict access can impose access limitations, requiring passwords and payment requirements. And most web-sites will honor requests from other web-sites to remove links.

Even so, this remains an area of controversy. Recent cases concerning news aggregation services call into question whether linking is always appropriate. For example, the Associated Press recently won a copyright infringement case against Meltwater, a news aggregation service which provided excerpts from Associated Press news articles and links to the entire article. The Court held that the fair use doctrine did not permit use of these excerpts and links to the full article. Here is a good discussion of the case. http://abmmediablog.wordpress.com/2013/04/23/court-provides-guidance-on-news-aggregation/ Many believe that the problem in the case was that the "click back" rate to the AP web-site was too low, but I think that misreads the decision. The problem is that Meltwater, without paying a license fee, infringed on AP's right to determine how and to whom its news is distributed. Thus, there may be situations in which linking from one site to another is not appropriate---particularly if the linking is combined with republication of copyrighted material from the web-site for which the link is provided. Further, as the case law develops, I suspect that courts will start to recognize the right of a web-site owner to object and require a take-down of a link by another web-site with whom the web-site owner does not want to be associated.

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Daniel Nathan Ballard

Daniel Nathan Ballard

Posted

While I disagree with some of Attorney Ross' conclusions [such as a link being the functional equivalent of a "copy" of a work], I heartily endorce his ultimate conclusion that not all hypertext links are lawful to publish.

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