Question: Is “deep linking” illegal?
Answer: “Deep linking” refers to the creation of hyperlinks to a page other than a website’s homepage. For example, instead of pointing a link at http://www.chillingeffects.org, this site’s “homepage,” another site might link directly to the linking FAQ at http://www.chillingeffects.org/linking/faq .
Some website owners complain that deep links “steal” traffic to their homepages or disrupt the intended flow of their websites. In particular, Ticketmaster has argued that other sites should not be permitted to send browsers directly to Ticketmaster event listings. Ticketmaster settled its claim against Microsoft and lost a suit against Tickets.com over deep linking.
From Ticketmaster v. Tickets.com opinion:Further, hyperlinking does not itself involve a violation of the Copyright Act (whatever it may do for other claims) since no copying is involved. The customer is automatically transferred to the particular genuine web page of the original author. There is no deception in what is happening. This is analogous to using a library’s card index to get reference to particular items, albeit faster and more efficiently.
So far, courts have found that deep links to web pages were neither a copyright infringement nor a trespass.
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