Are Links Themselves Subject to Copyright Concerns?

Jan 22, 2008 • 9:10 am | comments (2) by twitter | Filed Under SEO Copywriting
 

Let's say you wanted to be altruistic and provide a link to a site in hopes to raise awareness about a program that they promote. But when you alert the webmaster of said site, they go on a hissy fit and claim that linking to their site is a copyright violation.

In a WebmasterWorld thread, that's happening.

The back story is this: a person has had a web site about animal shelters. The site links to numerous shelters and provides their logos. A few months ago, he had to change URLs because his ISP went down. He put up a new site on a new URL and alerted the linked sites to the new site. One of these people, in particular, got all upset and said that doing so constitutes a privacy violation. Is it worth fighting in court?

The answer, to many, is no. The easy solution is just to remove the link and logo and let the guy lose his traffic. But the owner feels that this is not a good solution -- his motives are purely altruistic and he wants to keep the link intact because of his desire to have these animals adopted and not killed.

And many people, therefore, think that there's no reason to keep the link. In fact, taking the guy to court over a nonsensical issue like this would not work. Worst comes to worst, the chairman of the charity should be brought in to assess whether the person who threatened the webmaster has done so wrongly (and everyone agrees that the legal threat has no bearing).

I've never heard of any law or regulation that prevents you from linking to anything on your web site. It's your web site -- you decide the rules, aside from your host.

Other reading on the subject has been provided by forum member Victor, who says: "If they publish a website, then they accept the usual rules of conduct for websites." He links to http://www.w3.org/DesignIssues/LinkMyths.html and http://www.w3.org/DesignIssues/LinkLaw.

It looks like the webmaster is right and the animal shelter is wrong. Linking won't get you in trouble, and the issue probably holds no water in a court of law.

Forum discussion continues at WebmasterWorld.

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Comments:

No Name

01/23/2008 07:23 am

I guess some attorney may be behind that strategy. It doesn't take much to get these guys trying to sue for anything. Thanks for clarifying the non-issue.

Richie

01/23/2008 11:57 am

What a load of cobblers! All of this over a link? I have had a webmaster asking me to remove his link from our website - this is going back a couple of years and at the end of the day if he wants me to remove it, fair enough. We removed and nothing more was said about it, but why have a link removed, is it really going to affect any one? No.

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