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

On 2010/02/10 8:31, Rotan Hanrahan wrote:
> Thank you for the update. I hope that the three use cases I provided in [1] eventually benefit from appropriate legal opinion, or at least a formal position to put the arguments on more solid ground.
> For what it's worth, I view URIs like openings to a building. Some are obvious (front door, home page), some are less obvious but still public (delivery entrance, linked pages), some are visible but take some effort to find (maintenance hatch, node on site map), some are present but take more ingenuity to find (entrance via next-door, url?pageid=1234), some are special entrances with restrictions (cat flap, captcha protected page) and some are quite obviously reserved (penthouse elevator with key, pages requiring authorized sessions). There's a relationship between the amount of effort required to gain entry, and your right to enter.
> [I stretched the simile a bit, I know, but I'm trying to find a "common sense" position on URIs that might appeal to the wider public.]

This is an often used metaphor, and in many ways a very good one. The 
main problem is that while for buildings, you have to search quite a bit 
to find more than a few entrances, as Web site technically has hundreds 
if not millions of entrances.

> Unless there is something specific in a HTTP transaction, the representation of the resource that you get in response to a HTTP request is yours, and you are free to do anything with it.

Technically, yes. But not necessary legally.

> Typically that means rendering it in a browser that the author had anticipated, but increasingly the response can be rendered in alternative ways, which may not have been anticipated by the author.

"rendering in alternative ways" is not a black-and-white area, but an 
area where it may take a long time to find careful boundary lines. 
Simple scaling should be expected because that's already built in into 
different screen resolutions and browser scaling functions. Showing 
something as black-and-white or grayscale if hardware is thus limited 
should also be accepted, but is increasingly not an issue anyway. Other 
kinds of modifications may soon reach a limit.

> Of course, the response may carry constraints too (e.g. copyright notices) and it is fair to expect that recipients will respect such constraints.

IANAL, but copyright doesn't only apply if there is a copyright notice. 
Quite to the contrary, anything that's out there and meets some minimal 
creative standard is under copyright (unless it's too old). It used to 
be that in the US, you needed a copyright notice, but that has been 
switched around a long time ago. These days, people put on copyright 
notices to show who has the copyright, not that there is a copyright, or 
they do so out of custom.

> Framing somebody's site, as one might in a phishing scam, would therefore be seen as "wrong". But what about framing fragments of your site within the search results of a popular search engine?

As far as I understand, search engines don't do that. They mostly use 
excerpts (snippets), and there is quite some discussion and legal 
wrangling as to what length of snippet is still okay, and at which 
length it's too long.

> The authors of early Web pages, which still exist in the Web, could not have known about search engines. Nor would they have anticipated intermediate transcoders that adapt the content to mobile devices and other "strange" browsers. Can we assume that it is OK to adapt the content in this way? Does the fact that the URLs are in public confer such rights on us?

The fact that the URIs are public is totally irrelevant. What is 
relevant is whether you are doing this in some legally accepted way, 
such as "only small excerpts" (for text, up to the legally accepted 
size) or "only really necessary transformations" (for a 'strange' 
device) or "only on behalf of the user" (for proxies).

> If not, then a lot of search engines and mobile users are going to find themselves in legal hot water.
> However, I caution against confusing copyright issues with the implied rights that come with a public URL. I think the sensible position to take is that URLs (and their use in a HTTP transaction) confer the most generous rights, while all other mechanisms (copyright, access codes etc) seek to restrict them. This is better than assuming you start with no rights, and have to find explicit granting of rights in order to do anything, because if you do this then you'll effectively shut down the Web. The Web cannot work if your default position is that you have no rights with respect to what happens when you use HTTP (as intended) to dereference a URL.

Well, the problem with this is that by default, any page includes a 
copyright and therefore a restriction.

I think what a URI, in particular an URI for a Web page, gives you (if 
there is no access control), is the right to view this page in a 
browser. That's about the same very basic thing as the fact that you get 
the right to read a book when you buy a book.

Regards,    Martin.

> Anyway, I'm way out of my comfort zone here. Which is why I threw the matter (once more) at the feet of the TAG.
> ---Rotan.
> [1]
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Dan Connolly []
> Sent: 09 February 2010 18:44
> To: www-tag
> Cc: Jonathan Rees; Rotan Hanrahan; Thinh Nguyen; Rigo Wenning; Daniel Glazman; Yves Lafon
> Subject: Re: URIs, deep linking, framing, adapting and related concerns
> On Thu, 2009-11-12 at 15:15 -0600, Dan Connolly wrote:
> [...]
>> I'm working with Rigo and others to find people qualified
>> to research the legal as well as technical aspects.
>> A somewhat arbitrary estimate on when I'll have news is
>> end of January.
> The search for qualified (and *available*) writing
> resources continues.
> I bumped the due date back to 2010-03-23 in tracker;
> perhaps we'll have more news then.

#-# Martin J. Dürst, Professor, Aoyama Gakuin University

Received on Friday, 17 December 2010 11:29:57 UTC