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

I've been trying to catch up on this thread, which I passed over earlier...

I think the discussion we had at the last TAG conference call led me to the position that
what we could best do, as the TAG and in the W3C, is establish what the industry
considers to be the convention....

Conventionally, if you put up a page with a URL that you can navigate to by
clicking on "A"-style hrefs, it is expected to be reasonable for someone to
save such a link, mail it to someone else, or link to it on their web site.

Conventionally, someone discovering such a link should not expect to check
any "terms and conditions" to discover if it is OK for them to use it.

Conventionally, however, someone making a web site that offers images
for use in its own compound documents (for use in transclusion)  does not
expect others to point to or cite those resources directly; a resource mounted
for viewing stand-alone is different from one mounted for viewing only
within the site's own context.  Perhaps the content needs context,
does not stand alone, or perhaps it is merely because the cost of mounting
the image/script/resource/style-sheet is funded by whatever is behind
the context, and taking the resource out of context does not provide
a way for cost recovery.

Unfortunately, just given a URL itself, one cannot reliably determine whether
the resource located by the URL was intended for direct viewing by linking
or use in transclusion, although the content-type of the body might give
some indications for that.

(Note that this writeup does not discuss copyright, legality, rights, or what
is or isn't infringing, although  the "normal expectation for use" might bear
on those topics. My feeling is that W3C can and should come up with a
clear position about what is 'normal expectation for use', but should stay
away from trying to propose what should or shouldn't be legal in any


From: [] On Behalf Of Nick Gall
Sent: Friday, December 17, 2010 11:08 AM
Subject: Re: URIs, deep linking, framing, adapting and related concerns

Nick Gall
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On Thu, Dec 16, 2010 at 4:24 PM, Jonathan Rees <<>> wrote:
...This seems very similar to your example #1 of image
inclusion. If so a court may very well one day find <img> links to
unlicensed material to be infringing.

The US Ninth Circuit  has already decided the issue of inline linking: "While in-line linking and framing may cause some computer users to believe they are viewing a single Google webpage, the Copyright Act...does not protect a copyright holder against [such] acts..." See for more details.

I'm not sure the other circuits or SCOTUS will agree with the ruling, but it is out there.

Wikipedia has some great resources collected around the issues of deep linking and inline linking:

Speaking as a former intellectual property litigator, I'd say that when you strip away all the technological details, the fundamental issue comes down to "fair use". So if the W3C, or anyone else, wants to take a position of the copyright aspects of various kinds of hyperlinking (whether inline or not), it should be couched in the four factor framework of US fair use law. See .

-- Nick

Received on Wednesday, 29 December 2010 23:40:03 UTC