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Judge Rules Against Deep-Linking of Content

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the this-makes-a-lot-of-sense-honest dept.

The Internet 418

An anonymous reader writes "A Texas judge has ruled that, if a copyright owner objects to the linking of content from another web site, that link must be taken down. This case, which may have some far-reaching implications, centered around a motorcross website. The site, run by a Robert Davis, provided links directly to live feeds of 'Supercross' events streaming from the SFX Motor Sports site. The company filed suit, claiming that the direct links were denying it advertising revenue. The article cites previous cases, where sites were prohibited by judges from linking to files which violated copyright law (such as DVD decryption software). From the article: 'But in those lawsuits, the file that was the target of the hyperlink actually violated copyright law. What's unusual in the SFX case is that a copyright holder is trying to prohibit a direct link to its own Web site. (There is no evidence that SFX tried technical countermeasures, such as referrer logging and blocking anyone coming from Davis' site.)'"

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post the first (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17342768)

deep link this bitxhesaz

What is unusual in this case is... (5, Insightful)

nick_davison (217681) | more than 7 years ago | (#17342788)

The moron chose to defend himself and likened the other party to Ghengis Khan.

Cases are decided on the merits of the argument. If you're determined to enter a stupid argument, you're going to lose - the amount of money either side has or validity of the underlying concept doesn't matter at that point..

Wow. (4, Insightful)

paganizer (566360) | more than 7 years ago | (#17342802)

Wow. They made the entire Internet illegal.

Re:Wow. (3, Insightful)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17342862)

Wow. They made the entire Internet illegal.

No, they provided some recourse for someone who was appropriately annoyed that some other guy was enriching the appearance of his site's by 'providing' material to which he doesn't hold a copyright, for which he wasn't paying bandwidth, and so on. Argue all you want about the nuances, but it doesn't pass the smell test, and that's what the court thought, too.

Re:Wow. (5, Insightful)

n00854180t (866096) | more than 7 years ago | (#17342954)

Yes, but you miss the larger impact of the ruling, which essentially defines every link on the internet as illegal, so long as the owner of the target site cares to say "boo". And if you take it one step further, any site linking to any site that contains copyrighted material would also be illegal, covering all the rest of the content on the internet, that may or may not directly host copyrighted content or have bothered to copyright their site design.

Re:Wow. (2, Insightful)

Aadain2001 (684036) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343024)

I think the key concept you are missing is the linking directly to copyrighted material that the owner does not want others to link to. A copyright holder can decide who and how their material is distributed (as it should be). What is this rules does is reverse the rule of thumb of "if you put it on the internet, you are publishing it for anyone to see, unless you protect access to it". Now, instead of having to protect the content through technical measures, they can use lawyers instead. All-n-all, I don't think this will change much. Unless a copyright holder wants to take everyone who links to their content to court, they are still bitter off using technical means of protected their content from being used as was in this case.

Re:Wow. (5, Insightful)

n00854180t (866096) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343112)

You miss the point that it isn't the government's job to secure profits for any business or individual. If the owner of the content didn't want it seen by the public, they should have made it available only to private users, and not via a public URL. This situation is 100% analogous to a painter displaying, in full public view, a prized painting, then demanding $10 to view it, and crying to the government when no one pays your $10 fee to look at the painting. If the artist wanted the painting to be inaccessable, it is HIS JOB, not the government's, to make sure it is not publicly accessible.

Re:Wow. (1, Redundant)

Aadain2001 (684036) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343160)

The internet is a bit more complicated than that. To extend your painter analogy, imagine you have to be within sight of some sponsored advertisements at the public space the painting is displayed. Much like NASA car, you just cannot see the main attraction without also catching glimpses of the ads. Now, imagine someone walked up, took a super-high resolution photo of the painting. He could then display the painting around the corner, with his own advertisements, thus profiting off the painters copyrighted work. This would be a better analogy to the case. The painter is only asking the government to protect his copyright, which he has the right to do. If he choose to display the picture without any ads and did it out of the kindness of his heart, he could still prevent the second person from copying his painting in the public space and making money from it. That is what a copyright is.

Re:Wow. (2, Funny)

that this is not und (1026860) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343296)

Much like NASA car, you just cannot see the main attraction without also catching glimpses of the ads.

I think you meant 'Much like NASCAR.' And interestingly enough, NASA does not sponsor any drivers/teams at NASCAR, that I am aware of.

Re:Wow. (5, Insightful)

profplump (309017) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343340)

Except if you took a high resoluiton picture you'd actually have a copy, distinct from the original. A better analogy might be an artist puts their painting in a gallery window, and you open a shop across the street and put in a telescope so people can see the orignal painting, People still have to go *somewhere* to see the painting, and you *haven't* made an unauthorized copy, you just removed the original context (the gallery window) and replaced it with your own shop.

Certainly it's not a nice thing to do, and I'd be angry if someone did it to me, but wouldn't you prefer that the gallery just to put up curtains (or check the referer header)? Do you really want the courts saying it's illegal to use a telescope across the street from any art gallery?

Re:Wow. (1)

russ1337 (938915) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343308)

>>> I think the key concept you are missing is the linking directly to copyrighted material that the owner does not want others to link to.

If the owner is really that scared of someone linking to their content, I say don't fucking post it on the Internet.

Re:Wow. (5, Insightful)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343098)

Yes, but you miss the larger impact of the ruling, which essentially defines every link on the internet as illegal, so long as the owner of the target site cares to say "boo".

They didn't make anything illegal. This was a civil suit, where one guy was, despite being asked not to, leveraging someone else's material and bandwidth to fatten up his website with owning the content or doing the work or paying the bills. The guy who sued and won had to take an action for this to be stopped by a court, just like any copyright holder would have to in the future... but for now there's a precedent that says (so that everyone can get out of court quicker and spend less on lawyers) "that's some BS, piggybacking on that guy's material and bandwidth, and everyone knows it, so stop now and save us all the same grief in yet another case." Infringing on someone's copyright has always been a no-no. And as usual, it's up to the copyright holder to tell someone to knock it off. This isn't any different. The leech should have just quit while he was ahead, but he's obviously an idiot.

Re:Wow. (1)

n00854180t (866096) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343138)

Depriving someone of their ability to feed, clothe, and/or shelter themselves is a very small step from imprisonment. So the judge might as well have made it illegal.

Re:Wow. (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343170)

This was a civil suit, where one guy was, despite being asked not to, leveraging someone else's material and bandwidth to fatten up his website with owning the content or doing the work or paying the bills

Correction: This was a civil suit, where one guy was doing exactly what the World Wide Web was designed to do, who nevertheless lost because the judge was apparently a dumbass!

And as usual, it's up to the copyright holder to tell someone to knock it off.

No, what's usual -- and appropriate -- would be for the copyright holder to take down content he doesn't want other people to see, not whine to the court (using up public resources) to cover for his own stupidity!

Re:Wow. (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343252)

No, what's usual -- and appropriate -- would be for the copyright holder to take down content he doesn't want other people to see, not whine to the court (using up public resources) to cover for his own stupidity!

So, Time Magazine should stop putting its magazines on the shelf because otherwise they can't stop you from taking out your digital camera, making a copy of the cover, and using it on your web site as if the artwork were your own material?

Re:Wow. (5, Informative)

Dr. Zowie (109983) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343032)

No, actually, they pretty much broke the internet. There are well-established ways of preventing linking from outside pages (using cookies, checking referrer: tags, etc.).

A link isn't a copy of the information it links to. A link is instructions for where to find someone else's server that is willing to give you the information. Outlawing links is like outlawing giving directions.

If someone is linking to your site from outside and that annoys you, the solution isn't to take that person to court -- it's to stop serving data to people coming from outside your site. That's 90% of what the referrer: tag is for.

Re:Wow. (2, Insightful)

Kpau (621891) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343204)

A poor defense coupled with an idiot judge who doesn't do his own homework and a moron plaintiff who can't manage their website .... Talk about rolling "1" on a 1d20 3 times in a row... Internet broken, film at 11 - o wait, never mind we can't link to that now....

The Internet is fine (2, Interesting)

ePhil_One (634771) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343232)

No, actually, they pretty much broke the internet. There are well-established ways of preventing linking from outside pages (using cookies, checking referrer: tags, etc.).

No, you are over-reacting and ignoring numerous prior precedents. The practice is known as Deep Linking and claiming the technical tricks to block such practices mean its OK to do so is liek claiming Spamming through open relays is ok because there are RBL's that might be able to block it.

This decision in no way forbids linking to deep links, it merely affirms the owner of said targets the right to say "stop".

Re:Wow. (1)

m0rph3us0 (549631) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343100)

That is like having a big billboard in front of your store and free stuff in the back, and suing someone because they are telling people that you can bypass the billboard and go straight to the back.

Re:Wow. (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343356)

That is like having a big billboard in front of your store and free stuff in the back, and suing someone because they are telling people that you can bypass the billboard and go straight to the back.

No, this is like a neighbor running a business that depends on people thinking he's cool and has a lot going on, and who helps with that image by giving away the stuff you keep in your back yard, which you otherwise would provide under different circumstances. Who cares how good a fence you could put up if you want, and whether it would work - the other guy's an ass (partly for doing it in the first place, but mostly for not stopping when simply asked to).

Re:Wow. (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343188)

You say "No" as though both can't be true.

OMG!! A moron judge in TEXAS?! (0, Troll)

Bonker (243350) | more than 7 years ago | (#17342804)

I can't believe it! You'd think we Texans did all our legislation and legal maneuvering by the 'Good ol' Boy' system.

Oh, wait....

More nanny state BS (5, Insightful)

wiredlogic (135348) | more than 7 years ago | (#17342810)

The government isn't kept around to guarantee that businesses will make a profit. If these sites want to protect their ad click throughs then they can use techniques like unique per-user URLs or validating that the Referrer field in the HTTP request came from within their site.

Re:More nanny state BS (2, Funny)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | more than 7 years ago | (#17342916)

The government isn't kept around to guarantee that businesses will make a profit.
It isn't?

No Big Deal: Wait For The Appeal (1)

logicnazi (169418) | more than 7 years ago | (#17342820)

This isn't really a big deal or very surprising. Most judges aren't too familiar with the internet and technology and at the non-appealete level where they are dealing with a big well funded company who is likely suing someone who hasn't put much money into the legal defense it isn't surprising that one would get bad deciscions like this in unsettled areas of the law.

What really matters is what happens when these issues reach the appealete (damn lack of spellcheck on IE) courts. By that point hopefully the EFF and other organizations have gotten involved to put up a real legal fight and the judges have more time to learn about the technology and issues.

Re:No Big Deal: Wait For The Appeal-SPELCHEK! (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343200)

(damn lack of spellcheck on IE)

You have no one other than yourself to blame for this lack of spell-check. The same way the site complaining about deep linking has no one other than themselves to blame since they publicly posted the pages and used none of the measures available to them to prevent deep links.

FireFox 2.0 has an embedded spell-checker for all text boxes.

The Google toolbar for IE includes a spell-check facility.

Ridiculous (3, Insightful)

Sciros (986030) | more than 7 years ago | (#17342828)

This has nothing to do with copyright and everything to do with trying to make more money off ads. The judge should have told the greedy buggers to take care of it on their end if they wanted the cash. In fact, they could have engineered it so that the generated *extra* revenue from those links but sadly they're complete idiots. What bothers me is stupid decisions like this are then regarded as "precedent" when they should actually be regarded as 100% BS.

A short poem: (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17342830)

Deep link from me
And it is goatse you will see

The end.

Slippery Slope (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17342844)

This is a steep slope coated with AstroGlide.

If Stare Decisis holds here this could spell the end of a useful web. Everyone would just make everybody else link only to their homepage, and nobody would be able to link to content, to actual information.

The judge is, perhaps, a moron.

Re:Slippery Slope (1)

hahafaha (844574) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343258)

The judge is, perhaps, a moron.

perhaps?!

Torn here (2)

mackil (668039) | more than 7 years ago | (#17342848)

I'm a bit torn here, for while I think that lawsuits over this issue are a bit over the top, I do have some sympathy for SFX. I fight leeches and deep linkers from Myspace all the time. They will deep link to audio files on my site, sometimes 10 clips at a time, and have them autoplay every time someone visits their profile. As you can imagine, this sucks the bandwidth right out of my site. I've had to resort to referrer logging so I don't have a huge bill at the end of the month.

Still a lawsuit seems unnecessary, especially when there are countermeasures out there that work well.

Re:Torn here (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343030)

Still a lawsuit seems unnecessary, especially when there are countermeasures out there that work well.

Sort of like if your neigbhor keeps plugging his 2kw Christmas display (off of which he makes money!) into your house's exterior outlet, and no matter how many times you ask him to stop, he keeps doing it, and so you have to buy locks, build fences, and eventually hire an electrician to help you? If someone is doing something completely unreasonable (never mind that it costs you money!), why should your ability to escalate your defenses be your only option in stopping them? Sometimes it actually does make sense to deal with it in civil court - since obviously this guy was too much of a dick to simply stop doing it when asked. It is indeed bad enough when some loser on MySpace hot links some little JPG on your site, but piling on your MPG files has a much bigger impact on your wallet.

Re:Torn here (2, Insightful)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343224)

And bringing a lawsuit (against one individual) is cheaper than turning on referrer logging (which solves the problem in perpetuity for all leeches)? What colour is the sky on your planet?

Re:Torn here (1, Insightful)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343274)

And bringing a lawsuit (against one individual) is cheaper than turning on referrer logging (which solves the problem in perpetuity for all leeches)? What colour is the sky on your planet?

What's your point? That principle should mean nothing? That the only structure we should have in place to stop people from ripping you off is a physical barrier to their ability to do so? How about a more open situation where most people are reasonable and don't rip you off, and you tell the few people that do to knock it off, and when they say "screw you," you have some recourse?

You're advocating an arms race, and I'm advocating a civil society.

Re:Torn here (2, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343300)

Sort of like if your neigbhor keeps plugging his 2kw Christmas display (off of which he makes money!) into your house's exterior outlet, and no matter how many times you ask him to stop, he keeps doing it, and so you have to buy locks, build fences, and eventually hire an electrician to help you?

This is nothing like that. Whatsoever. It's a stupid simile. The difference is that a URL or other network stream that permits connections without checking to see who you are is like a building with an unlocked door. Sure, it might be rude for someone to come inside, but in a lot of jurisdictions, it's not even illegal if it's your personal residence. They're not trespassing until you tell them to leave - this is true throughout the state of California, and "NO TRESPASSING" signs have repeatedly been shown to be useless. Now, if you lock the door, that's breaking and entering. But on the internet, there is no zoning. Any given IP address could be a vanity site, or a private computer, or a web server. So to the user, every open port that will provide data makes a machine look like an open business, and you are meant to walk through the door.

Now, to continue this bullshit, just because I can enter a building doesn't mean I can walk off with the contents. Whether the door is locked or not, taking things that don't belong to me is theft. (Let's not get into a copyright infringement discussion here. This isn't meant to fit the digital world perfectly.) So just because a port is open doesn't give you an excuse to be a jackass. On the other hand, a web server or streaming server that does not have any access control is an open invitation to receive the content. If there is a shit lock on a door and you bypass it, that still takes you up to breaking and entering. The same should be true of the digital world and as far as I know, it is in some ways, but only because it helps to establish intent.

Making a video stream publicly available is much like broadcasting a TV station in some ways. It pretty much comprises an invitation to receive it. It's unlike it in other ways, which is to say that when you broadcast a radio signal, it costs you the same to send it regardless of the number of subscribers, but the IP network doesn't work that way in spite of the promises of multicast. But this doesn't mean that we need additional legislation; it means you should be more careful. If you don't want people coming through your door, lock it. Period.

Another breakdown in your analogy is that using access control you can effectively stop people from deep-linking your content. You can require that people have a valid cookie before they can download your content, or you can do referer checking, or take any of a number of other options up to and including checking access rights and then tweaking firewall rules to permit access to the video stream. You have a vast variety of methods available to you to combat deep linking. The only way you can control access to your outlet is physically. Of course, if your external outlets aren't on their own circuit, then you have very serious problems - that is a truly idiotic design.

Re:Torn here (2, Insightful)

hahafaha (844574) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343314)

Your logic is heavily flawed. It would be much more like this situation if the guy was embedding their videos on his page. However, he was linking to them. That would be like you putting up a Christmas decoration, and your neighbor putting up a sign, saying ``Look at the decoration next door'', and as a result of this, the concrete next to your house getting worn, and you having to pay to fix it. Can you sue your neighbor for this?

Re:Torn here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17343126)

I would say this,

Deep linking is the way the web works and there are established methods of restricting access to web content. Not restricting access to a web resource implies that you allow direct links. IOW fuck off!

This is a stupid precedent set by a stupid lawsuit involving stupid people. I don't see how anybody can be torn, it was clearly a technical issue and there was no requirement for legal proceedings. I've a good mind to deep link these mouth-breathers out of spite and I imagine a few slashdotters would join me. What are SFX going to do sue us all or restrict access like they should have done anyway?

Re:Torn here (1)

novus ordo (843883) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343350)

What about people that disable their referrers due to privacy concerns? I think a better solution would be to dynamically assign the links to individual users that expire after a certain time. Of course, you could also make any given link go to your main page(or ads) pretty easily. Like for example, send each link from your podcast first to a short ad and then redirect it to the stream.

Like you said, pretty standard countermeasures but in this case these people's understanding of the legal process greatly outweighs their technical prowess. That is, sadly, something which unnecessarily burdens and ultimately undermines our legal system.

Texas? (1)

JoshJ (1009085) | more than 7 years ago | (#17342852)

I'm no lawyer, so someone help me out here.
This case is in Texas, therefore:
*This, at MOST, only applies to websites in Texas
*This may or may not set a precedent for other websites in other states
*Depending on case-specific issues, this may not set any precedence at all (see earlier post about defendant stupidity)

Is all that right?

That said, this is yet another ridiculous abuse of copyright. Copyright is not supposed to protect "your ability to generate ad revenue".

Re:Texas? (2, Insightful)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 7 years ago | (#17342960)

Copyright is not supposed to protect "your ability to generate ad revenue".

Um, that is EXACTLY what copyright is. Copyright gives you the exclusive right to decide how your "information" is used, whether it is a book, a painting or a website. In exchange for protection, you have to give it to the public domain after a fixed number of years, currently 75.

If I write a book/website/etc, I have every expectation that you will not go sell photocopied versions of it without my permission. I wrote it, I get to decide how it is distributed and profit from it.

If not, then wtf do you think copyright is FOR?

Re:Texas? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17343192)

Um, that is EXACTLY what copyright is. Copyright gives you the exclusive right to decide how your "information" is used, whether it is a book, a painting or a website. In exchange for protection, you have to give it to the public domain after a fixed number of years, currently 75.

If I write a book/website/etc, I have every expectation that you will not go sell photocopied versions of it without my permission. I wrote it, I get to decide how it is distributed and profit from it.


Copyright grants the holder a limited monopoly on the distribution of his work. Used != Distribution.


If not, then wtf do you think copyright is FOR?


Copyright is there to prevent others from selling (unlicensed)copies of the original. Copyright is there to protect the creator's distribution rights, not to protect the supplemental ad revenue.

Example:
You write a comic book and to supplement the income of the comic book, you sell ad space with in it(a half dozen full page ads). I can buy that comic book, rip out ad pages and sell(or give away) the comic book to someone else. I can't make a copies of that comic book and sell them; regardless of whether I keep the ads in it or not.

The ads themselves are under someone else's copyright.

Re:Texas? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17343348)

Example:
You write a comic book and to supplement the income of the comic book, you sell ad space with in it(a half dozen full page ads). I can buy that comic book, rip out ad pages and sell(or give away) the comic book to someone else. I can't make a copies of that comic book and sell them; regardless of whether I keep the ads in it or not.
By ripping out part of the book, you have created a derivative work, and you may in fact not redistribute a derivative work without acquiring permission from the (all) original author(s). Just by getting permsission to distribute the comic as is, you have not obtained the right to distribute a modified version. (Ofcourse, individual owners may rip out the ads. But that's something else entirely.)

Re:Texas? (2, Insightful)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343266)

If not, then wtf do you think copyright is FOR?

The basis for things like copyright, as explicitly stated in the Constitution, is "to promote the progress of science and the useful arts." As such, copyright must be designed to do that. If you disagree, you're necessarily claiming that copyright is unconstitutional.

Re:Texas? (1)

DavidShor (928926) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343370)

No, copyright exists to help content owners get money, usually through sales or licensing fee's, the goverment defending ad revenue.... that would be a entirely new step.

Re:Texas? (1)

Daemonstar (84116) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343114)

*This, at MOST, only applies to websites in Texas *This may or may not set a precedent for other websites in other states *Depending on case-specific issues, this may not set any precedence at all (see earlier post about defendant stupidity)

Is all that right?
If a judge is making a ruling, he can see how other judges have ruled in the past. If this (or something similar) comes up again, a judge can take that info into consideration in making his judgement.

A Texas Judge? (2, Informative)

atamido (1020905) | more than 7 years ago | (#17342856)

This is a "United States District Judge" in Texas, not a Texas judge. Not quite the same thing.

cites != sites! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17342858)

cites != sites... are the proofreaders on Christmas break already?

Re:cites != sites! (2, Funny)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 7 years ago | (#17342890)

are the proofreaders on Christmas break already?

Already? We're still waiting for them to return from the break they started taking in 1999.

You're both n00bz (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17342940)

Slashdot never had proofreaders.

Something Awful is screwed (1)

ESOB (980346) | more than 7 years ago | (#17342866)

They are constantly threatened with legal actions due to their awful link of the day section. They have in their legal threats sections several threats to sue them due to this. Something Awful always defended with their right to free speech. I guess that's no longer going to defend them and they may need to hire a real lawyer (Sorry Crabs, Please don't eat me).

Re:Something Awful is screwed (2, Interesting)

dreddnott (555950) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343196)

Something Awful has typically defended against legal threats by laughing in their antagonists' faces and posting their pathetic e-mails in the Legal Threats section of the website for the whole world to see. I can't seem to recall any incident where Mr. Kyanka, at least in relation to Something Awful LLC, was sued or went to court for libel, slander, or copyright violations. I'm sure Lowtax would take the parody defense if his hand was forced, and they almost always link to the home page of an ALoD webpage, in any case.

I'm not worried. You should be, though. Leonard J. Crabs is always watching, watching and waiting....

English isn't that hard... (1)

NoxNoctis (936876) | more than 7 years ago | (#17342872)

Well, maybe it is. So "the article sites previous cases" does it? Tell me then, just what does it see? Ohh... You mean "cites". Gotchya.

Re:English isn't that hard... (2, Informative)

Stanistani (808333) | more than 7 years ago | (#17342986)

"sights" would reference vision - "sites" references location.

Guess English is a little harder than you thought.

Gotcha back.

Re:English isn't that hard... (0, Offtopic)

everphilski (877346) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343226)

proper english is 'cites'. You cite papers and court cases, you visit sites like the Washington monument. And I have my sights set on dinner (hungry at the moment).

Linking vs deep linking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17342876)

What's the legal difference between linking and deep linking?

Can I prohibit everyone from linking to my website at all, even to the top level?

Re:Linking vs deep linking (1)

Joe U (443617) | more than 7 years ago | (#17342976)

There is no difference. There is no such thing as a 'deep link', a URL is a URL is a URL.

As for blocking, I'll just type the URLs without the anchor and write a 'find url' plugin for all major browsers for those who can't be bothered to copy and paste.

Re:Linking vs deep linking (1)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343104)

There is no difference. There is no such thing as a 'deep link', a URL is a URL is a URL.

Yet if you take 100 URLs, and ask a bunch of random webmasters which are "deep links" and which are not, they will generally almost all classify the same subset as "deep links". If your theory were correct, this would not be so.

Re:Linking vs deep linking (0, Troll)

mabu (178417) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343110)

There is no difference. There is no such thing as a 'deep link', a URL is a URL is a URL.

Bullshit.

We all know what deep linking is. I assume those that are protesting this "unfair" ruling are probably actively engaged in stealing third party content and have a vested interest in promoting misinformation on this issue.

If you direct link to someone else's hosted, copyrighted, content, against their terms of service, re-packaging their content under your own brand/identity, you know you're doing something wrong. It's called "deep linking".. You're taking content outside the original context. If you link to an image of someone else's photography and put it on a non-related site, and that photo is copyrighted and not published in such a manner as to give you such rights, you are breaking the law. It's called deep linking.

This isn't some goofy frivolous legal issue. Content providers have a right to have their hard work protected from overt exploitation if they decide to share it in some part with the online community.

this changes things a bit (2, Insightful)

troll -1 (956834) | more than 7 years ago | (#17342884)

In some sense this provides for an absurd definition of the term "public internet". I mean linking is the same as telling someone that something exists. I wonder if I met someone at a party and I said, hey you should check out this link and I just "told" them about the URL, would I be violating the law if the URL's owner objected? What's the difference in speech between telling someone at a party and posting the same info on my blog?

Re:this changes things a bit (1)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | more than 7 years ago | (#17342970)

Well, one's on a computer and you can click on it using a mouse. The other is a bunch of words spoken by one person to another. I don't think there's a judge on the planet who couldn't distinguish between these things.

I've never understood these "What's the difference...?" posts where someone then proceeds to describe two completely different things.

Re:this changes things a bit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17343022)

In terms of the First Amendment I don't think there is a difference between the written and spoken word. They're both equally protected.

Re:this changes things a bit (1)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343242)

Is a computer virus protected speech?

Re:this changes things a bit (2, Funny)

n00854180t (866096) | more than 7 years ago | (#17342988)

That's probably the next step. Likely this judge will rule that thinking about content on the internet is an infraction punishable by death or absurd fine, and that by no means should any link URLs be thought of or transferred by way of non-digital medium (i.e., speech, paper text, smoke signals etc.).

Re:this changes things a bit (1)

Redlazer (786403) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343292)

The difference in your comparison is simple:

The internet costs money to maintain. Bandwidth costs money. Videos and music take up lots of bandwidth, and a very popular website getting a lot of hits is a blessing and a curse.

Speaking words to a friends cost no one anything - sharing an idea or telling someone a story, instead of giving them a link to the website which contains the story, costs no one anything.

And no, im not saying we should stop using the internet blah blah blah.

-Red

I can't believe it... (3, Insightful)

joNDoty (774185) | more than 7 years ago | (#17342896)

If you don't want your content to be linked to, don't make it accessible through a URL!

Re:I can't believe it... (0)

mabu (178417) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343042)

I'm really amazed at some of the ignorant responses here. Just because something is accessible doesn't mean that gives you permission to steal and exploit it.

Re:I can't believe it... (4, Insightful)

Amazing Quantum Man (458715) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343176)

How was the guy "steal"ing it? He didn't copy it on his own server. He left it on the plaintiff's server and posted a link to it.

I guess CmdrTaco should get the death penalty for all those links to copyrighted content he posts on this site.

Re:I can't believe it... (1)

recursiv (324497) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343202)

How can something given for free be stolen?

Re:I can't believe it... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343372)

I'm really amazed at some of the ignorant responses here. Just because something is accessible doesn't mean that gives you permission to steal and exploit it.

I'm really amazed at the ignorance of your response. Making something accessible in the real world doesn't mean that you have permission to take it away. But making some data accessible on the internet and without access control mechanisms absolutely gives you permission to use and consume it.

It's obviously not theft - it's not stealing - because he made no attempt to prevent people from consuming the content in this way. In fact he explicitly had to make it available for it to be available - video content you create isn't automatically on the internet. Thus simply by placing it on the internet without any access control, he in effect granted permission for anyone to download it.

It's also not theft because no deprivation of property occurred. It's true that some transfer costs were incurred; however, since he is the individual who made the content available, only he can reasonably be held responsible for those costs. See, "theft" is when you actually take something from someone, depriving them of physical property. This is the reason why the law does not refer to copying some data as "theft". They refer to it as "copyright infringement" which is a breach of an entirely separate law from an entirely different portion of the code.

it's their own dang fault... (3, Insightful)

thekm (622569) | more than 7 years ago | (#17342938)

...if they don't like it, they should just stop it. By tighting the rules about the referrer header, you can make sure that people browsing your site do so in the exact way you want.

Just look at the more savvy porn sites... they've started using referrers to make sure the images is being loaded from their site, but the more trickier ones are actually making sure that the image you want to look at was first loaded by the detail page that it was meant to be served from. It's made directory browsing terribly hard lately... :)


But either way, these morons would rather throw money at lawyers, and making people shell over money and such things, rather than tightening the technology of their own house. They define the rules, but with all those front doors openly accessible, they don't like it when people use them.

Many shops have doors out in the back alley... if you don't want people to use it, lock it, stupid!

Re:it's their own dang fault... (1, Funny)

mabu (178417) | more than 7 years ago | (#17342984)

Stealing is stealing.

Your response is analogous to the idea that just because my bicycle is on my own property, clearly labeled and locked up, that it's my own fault it was stolen because I didn't have a bigger lock.

People who deep link know exactly what they're doing. They're stealing content from other sites for their own gain. Regardless of whether or not the hosting site has elaborate referer restrictions or other crap, is irrelevant.

Stealing is stealing.

Re:it's their own dang fault... (1)

n00854180t (866096) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343072)

So, by your logic the government's sole job should be to prevent the possibility of so-called "theft" (which, your definition is actually incorrect, since to steal something, the thief would have to gain access to it by means other than the owner's approved channels, which isn't the case: the owner of the content in this case made said content publicly available, and thus no stealing took place) of revenue from any individual or company. You sir, are insane.

Nothing new (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17342966)

1999: http://www.salon.com/tech/col/rose/1999/08/12/deep _links/ [salon.com] covers several lawsuits seven years ago about deep linking without permission. I can't remember which one set the precedent that you need permission; and started the "linking guidelines" pages most sites now have, but I do remember one of them did get through, and yes you do officially need to have permission to link to anyhting other than the homepage.

BTW, this was an issue when Harvard/Yale/Stanford/MIT or whoever it was "hacked" another university's website by simply guessing what the URL was going to be while making admissions decisions.

I despair (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17342972)

The web implicitly allows deep linking, idiots who can't deny access to web clients without a valid session cookie should not be operating a web site. There is no problem, therefore this non-problem did not require a legal ruling.

To summize;
  • Petitioner = retard
  • Defendant = retard
  • Judge = retard

Great... (1)

HAL9000_mirror (1029222) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343000)

Call me exaggerating but we are moving towards a world of disconnected Internet. Really, start with saying one cannot link content. Next say go one level down and bring policies about linking at router level. We can devolve to where we started (single PC) and declare victory on safer computing.

I guess google is illegal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17343012)

bye bye

Re:I guess google is illegal (1)

bwd234 (806660) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343190)

No, Google has the money and lawyers to fight off a stupid-ass ******* like this. Only you and I and some other poor guy who wants to link to a cool page he saw on the Net will be stopped. Remeber, laws are there to protect the rich and control the poor....nothing else, that's all!

Re:I guess google is illegal (1)

mabu (178417) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343230)

Google links to site providers directly.

You could argue their image service may possibly be "deep linking" but I bet Google is actively trying to find ways to identify content that is less restricted so it doesn't infringe upon anyone's copyrights. And even with Google images, they link to the referring page directly. It's really ignorant and naive to generalize deep linking with other forms of legitimate linking.

Ad blockers. (1)

Spazntwich (208070) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343014)

What implications does this have for ad blockers? If "denying profit by not viewing ads" is now illegal, isn't any software that blocks advertisements going to soon be illegalish?

Where Does It End? (4, Insightful)

TheCrayfish (73892) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343026)

So, now linking to a publicly-accessible file on a web server is a copyright infringement? What if I simply publish the URL on my site but without the hyperlink? What if I publish the URL of an "unlinkable" file in the newspaper? How can telling people the LOCATION of information infringe on the rights of the copyright holder?

Texas ignorance and arrogance again (1)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343068)

Quote: "A Texas judge has ruled..."

Another ignorant [stickergiant.com] influence coming from Texas.

The proper defense against deep linking is technical. A judge should not get involved.

Re:Texas ignorance and arrogance again (1)

mabu (178417) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343184)

The proper defense against deep linking is technical.

WRONG.

Just like the proper defense against spam is technical right? If you don't like spam, it's the fault of the ISP because they can't filter it well enough right? Never mind that spammers steal resources, infect computers, violate privacy, and drive up the cost of everyone's service and drive down the performance. It's the fault of the providers for not implementing tighter security in lieu of enforcing legitimate laws regarding theft?

Your rationale is way off.

Stealing is stealing. If you take someone else's restricted content and exploit it, that's theft. We're not talking about linking to someone else's web site. People with half a brain know what's going on. There's a difference between linking to someone's site and taking their content, repackaging it on your own, and using their hard work to make money for yourself.

Technical solutions are nice, but legal solutions are necessary. That's the only way the spam problem will ever be solved... when they start putting those spammer criminals in jail, things will improve.. long before the 1,987,300th incarnation of anti-spam filtration appears to half-ass work.

Stealing is stealing. It amazes me that people seem to think digital information is somehow different from property in other formats... of course everyone changes their tune when they get ripped off themselves. Hypocrites.

Texas Justice (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343076)

The way to deal with this is for browsers to look for standard redistribution licenses, like Creative Commons gradations, in a standard place, like http://website.domain.tld/copyright-license.xml [domain.tld] , much like robots.txt against searching. Then the browser should display a big brown "BULLSHIT" stamp across any page published on the Web without access control.

And make posting messages to maillists with 40-line ".sigs" threatening torture and nuke attack when anyone redistributes some message posted from some corporate email account a call to arms for finding the poster. With a mob of angry list subscribers armed with torches and pitchforks.

We'll get this Intubeweb thang unkinked and safe for democracy someday.

Haven't RTFA, but... (1)

DimGeo (694000) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343122)

... seems reasonable. Just send an e-mail before making a deep link, or just take the link down if someone complains (which should happen, like, almost never if your site isn't too popular). No sweat there. In the extremely unlikely event that you can't post the link, you can still point at the main site and quote how to get to the interesting stuff (like, click here and find this link and select this option, etc).

The question on everyone's mind is... (1)

michaelmalak (91262) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343132)

Does this make it illegal to link to the "printable view" of a newspaper story instead of the advertisement view? Will Drudge start changing the way he links?

(I always linked to the advertisement view from my blog, just out of fairness.)

Killing the messenger (1)

novus ordo (843883) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343136)

How can they be sure that the people that used this guy's website would have watched this podcasted event otherwise? This guy should have been paid for free advertising he brought to this event instead of getting sued. Also instead of putting the ads in the podcast itself, they put it on the website. That is just poor business decision making.

"SFX will likely suffer immediate and irreparable harm when the new racing season begins in mid-December 2006 if Davis is not enjoined from posting links to the live racing Webcasts. The court agrees that if Davis is not enjoined from providing unauthorized Webcast links on his Web site, SFX will lose its ability to sell sponsorships or advertisement on the basis that it is the exclusive source of the Webcasts, and such loss will cause irreparable harm."
Somebody call Google!

robots.txt (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343148)

Why not have/require that the robots.txt protocol should also be followed for deep linking. While obviously voluntary, it would allow an easy line in the sand to indicate if anyone has broached the limits you've set by obviously publicly publishing your pages on the web. The pages are clearly public if you can go directly to them without some referrer code added by the site.

The biggest problem I see here is that these issues are being decided by judges who never attended a Computer Science class in their life, let alone became experts about the issues involved.

whew...thought this was about albumbase. (1)

Falladir (1026636) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343154)

So does this mean that it's still 'ok' to compile links to infringing material hosted elsewhere, as albumbase.com does?

This finding won't last long. Deep doesn't have to be very deep, does it? Clearly if the link allows a user to bypass the font page (indx.html or whatever) then the link denies the webmaster whatever revenue might have been generated by traffic at the front page. Unless the user were smart enough to bookmark the deeper site himself, or something really diabolical like that.

I bet that site gets multiply-deep-linked by X-mas (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343172)

I bet by Monday the plaintiff will find his site deep-linked from web sites all around the world.

This will force him to either give up or implement common technical fixes to prevent deep-linking, making his legal fight a waste of money.

Last line (0)

kevin_conaway (585204) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343178)

There is no evidence that SFX tried technical countermeasures, such as referrer logging and blocking anyone coming from Davis' site.

Isn't that irrelevant? If this is indeed illegal, they shouldn't have to do things like that.

Its kind of like a store owner who doesn't properly secure his shop at night. Is it his fault that thugs broke in and stole his stuff? Sure he could have done a better job and put up a metal door and bars on the windows, but that doesn't exhonerate the thieves.

Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17343214)

Slashdot, you're breaking the law.
I'ma sueeee yooouuuu

-news.com.com management

http://slashdot.org/ [slashdot.org]

There now you can sue me back

A modest proposal (1)

presidenteloco (659168) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343238)

If you don't want your material hyperlinked to, might I humbly suggest that you not put your material
on the worldwide web (web: (n) - a network of interlinked strands) and perhaps not render your material
in HYPERTEXT markup language (HTML) and perhaps not make it available with a HYPERTEXT TRANSPORT protocol
(HTTP) server.

Seriously, though: Putting your material on the web implies consent to have it linked to by any other site or
web browsing tool. This judge is ignorant of the nature and intent of the web, or is just a general dufus.

Re:A modest proposal (1)

Shados (741919) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343334)

Yeah, definately. If a -hyperlink- ruins your business model when you use -hypertext-... The people complaining about this should just make their darn site in raw Flash or something. Problem solved >.>

The judge is an idiot, too. He/she seems to have no clue whatsoever about the implication of this decision.

The onus should be on the site wanting to block (1)

that this is not und (1026860) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343264)

It's not hard for a site to check the referrer tag (string?) and see where a browser was redirected from. Then it's simply a matter of that site refusing connections from browsers referred to it from sites they don't want linking to them.

It should be the content provider's responsibility to block unwanted connections, not the site pointing to the content.

Re:The onus should be on the site wanting to block (1)

Shados (741919) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343302)

Agreed. This is amazingly retarded. Its a programmer's job to allow or deny this, not a court. Especialy since its not like you need a master degree in cryptography or something to protect content this way. Its 10 lines of code in an http module, or a htaccess, or whatever. It takes -minutes- to stop...

Here's a little clue for said judge (3, Insightful)

symbolic (11752) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343294)


IF someone includes a link in their writing to what is supposed to be a specific item of interest, but cannot because of rulings such as this one, they're forced to leave a link to the home page of the web site instead. Does anyone honestly think users are going to waste their valuable time trying to locate the item of interest being referenced by the writer? When I'm confronted with these kinds of links, the very next click is on the "close" button.

Sit down kids and let me tell you a bed time story (0)

ryanisflyboy (202507) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343380)

Let's say I am a store owner. Better yet, I am a movie theater owner and I show movies that I have made myself on the subject of squirrels. They are open to the public, anyone can just walk in and start enjoying the movies. To make money I have stuffed squirrels I sell in the lobby, and I have movie posters for another movie theater that shows horse movies. Now let us assume that my squirrel movies are the hottest thing in town. People can get enough of them. Everyone is talking about them. How cute their fluffy little tails are and all that cute squirrel crap. They are lining up down the street to see my free squirrel movies. And I am making a killing selling stuffed squirrels. Also, the horse theater is paying me gobs of money to put their posters on the wall. I am driving a car powered by squirrels I am doing so well.

Now let's say one of my biggest fans just loves my movies. He can't get enough of them, and he knows lost of other people who are the same. He would watch them all day long if he could but the line is just too long at the theater to get in. So, this fan happens to be a genius at optical systems. He rigs up a special series of prisms and mirrors to extend the 'broadcast' range of my movies. He figures "Hey, these are free so there is nothing wrong just extending the picture range, right? I am a big fan. The guy should be pleased about having such an amazing fan design a complex optical system just to watch his movies! He should feel really lucky to have me love his movies so much that I would go to the trouble." Now him and his friends can sit in a private theater next to mine and watch my movies in peace, just not in my theater.

One day I figure this out. I realize that there is no way I can stop his ingenious optical system from working. He is just too smart for me. I can't seem to figure out how all those new-fangled prisms and mirrors work. Worse, I am angry. His little private showing room doesn't have the horse posters and stuffed squirrels. Turns out that my customers don't really like that stuff, but they just tolerate it to get at my squirrel movies. The second they hear this guy is showing my movies in another place without the stupid horse posters they all go to his private viewing room. Sales are down 40% at my theater. The horse theater owner is mad cause his posters aren't being viewed and refuses to pay me any more money. Worse, the squirrels in my card die cause I can no longer afford to feed them. Now remember, the movie picture actually originates from my theater, yet it lands on a screen in his private theater as well as mine.

So I sue the kid. The judge says, yup - this guy is stealing your movies. He isn't supposed to be doing that. He will have to remove all the new-fangled prisms that get the picture to magically show up in his private theater. Also, he is going to have to pay you back for all those lost sales that he caused by doing this.

This leaves the slashdot crowd so confused, I have to write a dumb post about squirrel movies to explain it.

Don't Mess with Texas! (1)

stox (131684) | more than 7 years ago | (#17343384)

It's not nice to pick on mentally handicapped.
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