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Universal: Don't Link to Us Page 2
3:00 a.m.  27.Jul.99.PDT

continued
Although there are no major court decisions on record, Hayes said a series of settlements in deep linking cases have established a trend. "They were settled by the defendant agreeing to link only to the main page," he said.

For example, when Ticketmaster sued Microsoft for deep linking from its Sidewalk.com site, the software giant eventually backed down. The parties settled out of court, with Microsoft agreeing not to deep link into Ticketmaster's site.

Ticketmaster's main complaint was that users hyperlinking deep into its site were missing several banner ads they would have seen if they had entered through the frontdoor, Hayes said.

"They felt they were getting harmed in their ad revenues -- they weren't getting as many eyeballs," he said. Microsoft, meanwhile, argued its links were a First Amendment right.

Legal experts were watching as Ticketmaster and Microsoft duked it out. Had the companies fought to the end, the decision in their trial might have cleared the fog surrounding the issue.

One expert watching the trial was Jeffery Kuester, an Internet law specialist who maintains his own law and technology resource page called KuesterLaw.

"The Web's not the Web if you can't link," he said. But where the line should be drawn between the right to link and the right to protect one's intellectual property is for the courts to decide, he added.

The trailer links on Movie-List technically point to other servers, but only the URLs mark the pages as studio content. Kuester says the average user is likely to be confused, because the trailers appear to be part of Movie-List's pages.

Both Kuester and Hayes agreed that while HTML originally facilitated deep linking from one scholar's footnote to the original academic source, people shouldn't abuse it.

"I think [Movie-Link's deep linking] does subvert the philosophy on which the Web was founded," Fenwick's Hayes said. He pointed out that although copy machines were designed to make copies, not all reproductions are legal.

Related Wired Links:

MS, Ticketmaster Bury Hatchet
16.Feb.99

Ticketmaster Sues Microsoft over Sidewalk Links
29.Apr.97

TotalNews Settles with Media Giants over Links
5.June.97

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