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Online job site StepStone has obtained an injunction against German rival OFiR which prevents it from linking to StepStone pages. The injunction was granted thanks to new European database laws that essentially assume data to be copyrightable.

StepStone was offended because OFiR was linking to pages within its site and bypassing banner ads. StepStone also claimed that OFiR was using the links to justify claims over the number of jobs it had access to - something which clearly isn't good business practice.

The injunction certainly opens the door to other cases of abuse by companies. Fortunately, there appears to be little reason to panic and wait for the day where huge conglomerates prevent anyone from linking to them (and thereby killing the Internet's basic premise) - the laws will have no effect on your run-of-the-mill linking as they can only be invoked where extensive hyperlinking is built into a system and where it adversely effects the linked-to site.

A similar case, but this time involving frames, is coming up between publisher Haymarket and oil company BP Amoco. Subsidiary Burmah Castrol was linking to Haymarket content within its frames setup, so the content was shown with BP branding rather than Haymarket ads. ®

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