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

From: Jonathan Rees <jar@creativecommons.org>
Date: Mon, 26 Apr 2010 05:30:05 -0700
Message-ID: <r2h760bcb2a1004260530j2ac790dbh7652700b8d12dc7e@mail.gmail.com>
To: Martin J. Dürst <duerst@it.aoyama.ac.jp>
Cc: Tex Texin <textexin@xencraft.com>, 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
On Mon, Apr 26, 2010 at 1:13 AM, "Martin J. Dürst"
<duerst@it.aoyama.ac.jp> wrote:

>> 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).

When a user visits site B that has a link to site A, and then GETs the
resource on site A (perhaps via an IMG element from site B), then
there are two acts of copying. Site A is copying a URL from site B,
and the user-agent is copying site A content into their browser
window. I.e. site B is not copying content from site A. To my
knowledge neither act of copying can be considered infringing: URLs
are not considered creative expression, and site A can't go after site
B unless site B has copied something from site A, which it hasn't.

If you know otherwise (either a legal decision or some site-B honoring
a take-down notice) I would be very interested to hear.

By the way the Ticketmaster Corp. vs. Tickets.com  case says to me
that there is no legal protection against "deep linking" in the US. (
http://ilt.eff.org/index.php/Ticketmaster_v._Tickets.com )

> 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 is true, but if site A (you) wants to protect itself I think it
needs to use technical means (make linking difficult or impossible) or
licensing (confirmed user agreement to terms), since copyright
protection doesn't apply.

> 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.

Agreed: To my knowledge (which is limited, I'm not an attorney)
there's no legal protection in this situation when the user
controlling the user-agent has not entered into an agreement with site
A. If site A wants to inhibit linking to its resources from unapproved
sources such as site B, it will have to do one of two things
1. put those resources behind an authentication system (login or
cookie or web-key) that confirms the user-agent as one that is
approved for whatever reason, or
2. put the resources outside of web architecture (not named by a URI).

If bandwidth is the only problem, site A might consider using 503
responses. Otherwise web-keys (site A using URIs that site B doesn't
know) look pretty good to me.

Jonathan
Received on Monday, 26 April 2010 12:30:39 UTC

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