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Re: Deep linking barriers in the UK: The Royal Mail

From: Martin J. Dürst <duerst@it.aoyama.ac.jp>
Date: Mon, 26 Apr 2010 17:13:57 +0900
Message-ID: <4BD54B45.2030903@it.aoyama.ac.jp>
To: Tex Texin <textexin@xencraft.com>
CC: "'Pat Hayes'" <phayes@ihmc.us>, "'John Kemp'" <john@jkemp.net>, "'Tim Berners-Lee'" <timbl@w3.org>, "'Paul Libbrecht'" <paul@activemath.org>, "'Henry S. Thompson'" <ht@inf.ed.ac.uk>, www-tag@w3.org
Hello Tex, others,

On 2010/04/25 15:51, Tex Texin wrote:

>>> I believe that the point is that a link is a link, no matter to what
>>> place in a hierarchy -- proposed only by the site owner -- it
>>> points. So why do we believe that (or talk as if) there is some
>>> hierarchy ("shallow", "deep") implied only by a link?

> If we treat all links the same (a link is a link) and fail to recognize that
> from the point of view of the content owner all contents are not the same,
> then we drive owners to either reduce the quality of their web offerings or
> to resort to additional technologies to satisfy their viewpoint.

I think you have a point here. Probably what it should say is "a link to 
a Web page is a link to a Web page".

> Deep linking is not about depth. It refers to content that is a component
> that supports a page or other larger entity.

If the component is a Web page, then even if it supports other Web 
pages, it should be able to stand on its own. If the component is a 
'part' of a Web page, such as an image or a style sheet, then this may 
indeed be a real problem, but I don't think that's what everybody in 
this thread means when they use the term 'deep linking'.

> Owners may object to direct
> linking to these components if context, advertisements, or license or
> copyright information is lost,

Web pages should be self-contained at least to the extent that they 
contain a link to copyright information if that's deemed necessary. (I 
am not a lawyer, same applies below!) In general, there's actually no 
need for copyright information to make something copyrigthed).

> if the reference is for an unintended purpose,

As long as 'reference' is understood in the sense of textual reference 
(e.g. "go look over here"), then purpose cannot be a criterion. It may 
not be the purpose of your website that I disagree with what's written 
there, but I nevertheless have to be able to say so, or we loose free 

> or because it drives up hosting costs without returning value.

Not all visitors to your Web pages necessarily bring value. That's part 
of doing business (or anything else) on the Web.

> If I have a page on exercises and have an image of a girl demonstrating a
> maneuver, and the image is referenced directly for prurient or other
> interests, my hosting costs can become significant.

If you mean that the image is referenced separate from the Web page it 
was contained, then that may be a copyright violation. With reference to 
hosting costs, it may also be theft or fraud. The extreme example would 
be to refer to another site's one-pixel GIFs (which sure cannot be a 
copyright violation because there can't be much copyright in such GIFs, 
but which is clearly bandwith stealing).

One possibly salient point with a reference to a Web page is that it's 
not the the creator of the link that activates it, but the reader.

> I am sure you have run
> across other examples. If other exercise companies use my embedded
> components and do not mention my web site, I don't recover the investment I
> made to create the content.

That should clearly be dealt with as a copyright violation.

> As a consequence people employ various techniques to present embedded
> content without using a simple link.

As far as it's easier to protect these resources technically than to 
enforce their legal protection, that may explain this choice.

> It would be better to recognize that some content is intended to be part of
> an atomic unit and the artifact that the unit was formed by links doesn't
> necessarily mean that the individual pieces should be available or that the
> owner is responsible for uses other than those intended.

I agree. I think there might be some exceptions and gray areas (e.g. 
frames), but as a rough approximation, saying that each individual Web 
page may be safely considered as such a piece, whereas material embedded 
in such Web pages (images, video, audio, stylesheets) are not such pieces.

> Which is more dangerous to the web: recognizing link inequality or having
> numerous technologies to assemble contents so they are not easy to reference
> directly, but which are also likely to be incompatible with accessibility,
> certain browsers or devices, security, internationalization, etc.?

I think the distinction between Web pages and auxiliary material, and 
the distinction between user-triggered links and automatically 
dereferenced links both make sense and both cut at about the same place.

Regards,   Martin.

#-# Martin J. Dürst, Professor, Aoyama Gakuin University
#-# http://www.sw.it.aoyama.ac.jp   mailto:duerst@it.aoyama.ac.jp
Received on Monday, 26 April 2010 08:14:48 UTC

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