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Re: URIs, deep linking, framing, adapting and related concerns

From: <noah_mendelsohn@us.ibm.com>
Date: Fri, 16 Oct 2009 14:59:13 -0400
To: Jonathan Rees <jar@creativecommons.org>
Cc: Rotan Hanrahan <rotan.hanrahan@mobileaware.com>, Thinh Nguyen <thinh@creativecommons.org>, www-tag@w3.org
Message-ID: <OFEABF8A4C.5AE58CBF-ON85257651.0054ABEF-85257651.0068501E@lotus.com>
I think there are architectural as well as legal issues involved here, 
though I'll admit that the border between the strictly technical 
architectural issues, and the social architectural issues, isn't always 
crisp.

In any case, the TAG does have a history of making statements about these 
things, specifically the finding ""Deep Linking" in the World Wide Web" 
[1].  I think the finding is probably OK as far as it goes, but I think it 
unnecessarily emphasizes issues relating to the distinction between "home" 
pages:

"People engaged in delivering information or services via the World Wide 
Web typically speak in terms of "Web sites" which have "home pages" or 
"portal pages." Deep linking is the practice of publishing a hyperlink 
from a page on one site to a page "inside" another site, bypassing the 
"home" or "portal" page."

It concludes:

"Attempts at the public-policy level to limit the usage, transmission and 
publication of URIs at the policy level are inappropriate and based on a 
misunderstanding of the Web's architecture. Attempts to control access to 
the resources identified by URIs are entirely appropriate and 
well-supported by the Web technology.

This issue is important because attempts to limit deep linking are in fact 
risky for two reasons:

   1.       The policy is at risk of failure. The Web is so large that any 
policy enforcement requires considerable automated support from software 
to be practical. Since a deep link looks like any other link to Web 
software, such automated support is not practical.
   2.      The Web is at the risk of damage. The hypertext architecture of 
the Web has brought substantial benefits to the world at large. The onset 
of legislation and litigation based on confusion between identification 
and access has the potential to impair the future development of the Web."

I would be very sympathetic to rearranging the finding, or publishing in 
the form of a new additional finding, to focus primarily on the first 
sentence of the conclusions, which is the one that says:

"Attempts at the public-policy level to limit the usage, transmission and 
publication of URIs at the policy level are inappropriate and based on a 
misunderstanding of the Web's architecture. Attempts to control access to 
the resources identified by URIs are entirely appropriate and 
well-supported by the Web technology.

This is indepenent of the hotion of "home", "portal", "site" or "inside", 
etc.  All of that could be moved to chapters that explain the "deep" 
aspects of linking as a special case of the larger principle.  I.e., now 
that we've told you that limiting usage, transmission, and publication of 
any URI is inappropriate (modulo things like libelous text embedded in the 
URI itself, etc.), it follows as a special case that the principle applies 
equally to pages that the resource owner might consider "nested" or 
"inside" as it does to pages that are viewed as "home" or "portal".

Noah

[1] http://www.w3.org/2001/tag/doc/deeplinking-20030911 

--------------------------------------
Noah Mendelsohn 
IBM Corporation
One Rogers Street
Cambridge, MA 02142
1-617-693-4036
--------------------------------------








Jonathan Rees <jar@creativecommons.org>
Sent by: www-tag-request@w3.org
10/16/2009 09:30 AM
 
        To:     Rotan Hanrahan <rotan.hanrahan@mobileaware.com>
        cc:     www-tag@w3.org, Thinh Nguyen <thinh@creativecommons.org>, 
(bcc: Noah Mendelsohn/Cambridge/IBM)
        Subject:        Re: URIs, deep linking, framing, adapting and 
related concerns


I think you are mostly asking architectural questions, which I won't
answer right now; I just wanted to touch on the non-technical
question.

On Fri, Oct 16, 2009 at 8:56 AM, Rotan Hanrahan
<rotan.hanrahan@mobileaware.com> wrote:
> To the TAG members,
>
> Recent discussions with other W3C members once again highlight the 
general
> mis-understanding of the role of the URI (or URL, to use the term more
> familiar to the wider community). The publication of a URL that 
identifies a
> third party resource cannot (in any sensible manner) be prevented by 
that
> third party because the URL is merely the address of a single resource
> within a huge public space. By virtue of placing the resource into the
> public space, the owner of the resource (or the associated intellectual
> property) has effectively agreed to reveal the address and make it 
“common
> knowledge”.
>
> Some owners of these resources seem to believe that they can legally 
prevent
> people from uttering Web addresses in public. This would be counter to 
the
> architecture of the Web, which depends on being able to make such
> references.
>
> This probably seems correct to anyone familiar with the Web. A statement
> from the TAG to this effect reinforcing the open nature of URLs may help
> dispel the misunderstandings about what can and cannot be done with 
URLs.

I agree that a statement from someone is desirable. But this is
primarily a legal question, which the TAG is ill equipped to answer.
Putting a URI somewhere is a form of speech and is subject to whatever
local regulations govern speech. For example, trademark law prohibits
uses of a mark that might confuse a consumer, and uttering a URI that
contains profanity, threats, pornography, copyrighted material, state
or personal secrets, etc. would also be subject to law. So the
question is not black or white. As for things like the absurd
http://www.aa.com/i18n/footer/legal.jsp "links to the site", you'd
really have to get an attorney or legal scholar to tell you that you
are violating no law by ignoring what American says. You shouldn't
believe me.

I would be happy to reinforce a request that W3C make a statement or
FAQ of some kind on the subject. It might be desirable to summarize
statute in a sampling of jurisdictions, and there is some relevant
case law that W3C could point people to.

Jonathan



Received on Friday, 16 October 2009 19:00:00 GMT

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