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US judge upholds hyperlinks

Copyrights were never intended to promote advertising

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Hyperlinking, or deep linking, where links bring surfers from one Web site past the home page of another and directly to the relevant content is perfectly legal, according to US District Judge Harry Hupp in his ruling on a case brought by Ticketmaster against rival Tickets.com.

Many Webmasters object to deep linking because it defeats their advertising strategies by enabling surfers to bypass all but the relevant pages. While that may be a reasonable objection, the use of the Copyright Act is clearly out of place.

Thus the Judge's decision involves an elementary primer on the difference between copyright violations and everything else that commercial Web operators complain about. "Hyperlinking does not itself involve a violation of the Copyright Act," Hupp said.

So long as the linked site and its content are identified to surfers, "there is no deception....this is analogous to using a library's card index to get reference to particular items, albeit faster and more efficiently."

Ticketmaster most likely invoked copyright infringement because there is no law that pertains to the right of a publisher or broadcaster to insist that their advertising be absorbed by the public. Perhaps an Act of Congress is in order to rectify this glaring omission in the American legal system. ®

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