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Judge Rules Deep Hyperlinking OK 173

SEWilco writes "In this USA Today story a judge ruled that hyperlinking is not illegal as long as consumers understand whose site they are on and that one company has not simply duplicated another's page. " The case stems from Ticketmaster suing for deep-linking within Ticketmaster. Very good ruling for the health of the Web.
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Judge Rules Deep Hyperlinking OK

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    The company I work for made it onto my favorite site! ( that is..).. Been here 3 years, and still going..Maybe the stock will finally go up???
  • by Anonymous Coward
    You sound just like Al Gore...

    You benefit from a system, then you get caught, then you say you want to change the system.

    Yep, throw in a monotonic voice and a few Open Source nuclear secrets now pointing at the US and you'd be a perfect Al Gore fill clone.

  • Or use URLs that have wacky characters in them that change ml
  • I think the scenerio you describe is very different from deep Hyperlinking. A better analogy would be to have links on your web page which point to a discussion topic on the server. This link to's HTML document would include slashdot's advertisements. I see this practice as totally different from duplicating slashdot's content in your own web space.
  • ummmm.... if someone buys of the ticketmaster site, doesn't ticketmaster make money??? what is their problem?

    J Perry Fecteau, 5-time Mr. Internet
    Ejercisio Perfecto []: from Geek to GOD in WEEKS!
  • of course there's a great big can of worms when it comes to works that pass into the public domain...

    locking everything up on one site is not a great recipie for the public interest, imho
  • I guess it would be a good idea to show my credentials by reminiscing at length about telnetting into CERN to use the NeXT web browser, back in '90-something. Why, there were only four sites on the web back then...

    No? Well, anyway, I do understand what hyperlinking is. The issue here is DEEP hyperlinking -- taking advantage of a site's back end data or services without showing users the rest of the site. I would have thought that commercial site designers might consider that obnoxious, if not illegal, and I was curious if that's so.
  • Keep on moderating this comment up so the stupid Slashdotters don't continue to think Ticketmaster was trying to ban hyperlinks.

    They're trying to stop FRAUD, MISREPRESENTATION, and THEFT OF CONTENT. I'm sure Hemos (and Andover) would have a different view of the matter of I made a little frameset with my banner ad and logo in the top frame and Slashdot in the bottom.

    This is a case of one site taking credit for the hard work of another, and it's WRONG.

  • What we need to do is set up a briefing packet for Congress. All of them. Discussions of the flaws in the DMCA, of UCITA, of the attacks on DeCSS and on anti-filtering. Logical, reasoned arguments against what's there already. Maybe sponsored by the EFF. Or a made-up think-tank with a grandiose title.

    This falls under the "geeks just don't understand how to hack politics" thing, doesn't it? I think this is a great idea. Does anyone from the EFF read this? I wonder if they'd be interested. Does EFF even have a regular lobbying arm? Gotta go check on their web site...

    Real Hacker (tm) Wanna-be
  • About half of slashdot is now about patents, laws, law suits, and censorhip.

    Time for a new section?

    How about "Slime" as the name of it?
  • And of course we all know that Ticketmasters of the Universe need all that ad revenue 'cause they don't really make any money off of ticket sales. : )
  • Shouldn't you at least have the decency to credit Lewis Carroll, the author of that poem?
    Yes, I know that Lewis Carroll was his pen name, not his real name.

  • > If you cant do business here on the pre
    > established ground rules, then dont do busines
    > here

    HUH? Since when are there pre-established ground rules for hyperlinking on the Internet? Establishing rules is the whole point of this case.

    > Do your reserch, then do some more research,
    > then start working on your idea, then do a
    > little more research.

    I couldn't agree more. Did you do YOUR research?
  • Ticketmaster is not using your internet for their own ends. They *DID* help create a global communication system--they pay for their colocated connections just like nearly every other commercial online venture. They should be able to do as they please with their own site.

    How much did YOU contribute to a backbone provider last year?
  • If that is realy why Ticketmaster went to courts with the case, then I don't understand why Ticketmaster didn't simply use the "Referer" tag in the HTTP request.

    In the early days Altavista was just "", then someone registered, copied the search form from Digital, put his own advertisments on that page and let Digital do all the hard work (i.e. searching).

    Digital, having a clue, used the "Referer" tag in the requests to notify the people coming from, in big bold friendly letters, that the page they came from was in fact, not associated with Digital. The "issue" was solved in under 1/2 month from start to end.
    Why pay for drugs when you can get Linux for free ?

  • EXACTLY! (Well, skipping the goat sex and child porn part :P) This has always seemed like such a DUH issue to me because it's a simple configuration for the webservers. The courts should not be dragged into situations where decent administration is the solution.
  • Quite simply:

    Don't solve a technical problem by filing a suit.

    It's not worse than looking at the HTTP_REFERER anyway...
  • touch, unzip, play, finger, yes, mount, fsck, fsck, fsck, fsck, gasp, done, unmount, sleep
  • Ticketmaster allows their partner sites to link to anything within their site. People who have made a business contract with Ticketmaster would probably not appreciate having their users forced to log in to Ticketmaster or sit and look at a splash page.
  • Solved in 1/2 month? I remember that site being up for years. And Digital finally bought them out for a ton of money.
  • If you allow some people to link to pages other than your front page (they do, for their partnerships) this won't work. And you want a user to be able to bookmark a concert and come back to it.
  • Ticketmaster, rather than paying some techies to FIX the problem, paid some lawyers to file a frivoulous suit that had no merit, and which could have set a very dangerous precedent, had the judge and appeals court been clueless (this is ENTIRELY possible; read a random sampling of early decisions related to the internet).

    Actually, it's very difficult to solve this problem with technology. Things like User-agent, Referer, and other HTTP headers are trivial to forge, which leaves you with blocking specific IPs. If the offending site is using frames, then it becomes impossible to tell "real" traffic from the links. If you don't allow any legitimate customers to frame your site, you can use frame-busting javascript, but the site uses frames.

    So, there is no simple technical solution.

  • Bzzzt WRONG.

    I can at least....
  • by mcc ( 14761 )
    > On another note, Hey Rob, what's with the Extrans option? It does the exact same thing as "plain text" now... it used to work..

    While what you bring up is a point that probably deserves to be brought up, it's possible that putting it at the end of an anonymous coward post nested three levels deep in a very busy discussion is probably not the most effective word to get yourself heard. Especially not by any member of the slashdot staff.. they don't read _every_ post, and probably won't read yours.
    Just a bit of advice.

    [personally i've never seen "extrans" work, although it would be really cool if it did.]
  • Actually it is good, and reasonable. Take it back into older areas for a moment. If deep linking were not legal, then it would be illegal for me to refer to you a particular page in a reference book, allowing you to skip over everything else the authors put into the book. The authors could legally restrict deep linking into their book, forcing me to tell you only the title and making you search for the relevant information on your own using what they provided.

    Remember the other half of the judge's decision: that it must be clear who owns the content you're deep-linking to. It would still, under this decision, be illegal for to link to Ticketmaster information and present it as their own. And if they clearly identify it as Ticketmaster information, what you complain about goes away.

  • Maybe this is an attempt to keep persons from
    using university pages for profit? After all,
    isn't research done at universities non-profit
    in general. Thus, maybe they want to keep
    pages from the university non-profit as well?

    George Lee

  • I see as just a bunch of incompetent whiners. Why? Because they obviously have no clues (at least among those in the company that management actually listens to) about how to make deep hyperlinking useless. Apparently the management of is so out of touch with technology that they were the ones to lump data mining and deep linking together. If I had a data repository of great value and wanted to make sure anyone visited was greeted first by whatever license agreements I wanted them to OK, or whatever ads I wanted to spam them with, it would be easy. And unlike some places which dumbly redirect offsite links to the main page, I could subsequently lead the visitor to the exact page they went for after they agree (and the page can have ads on it just for offsite linking, too). Manipulating how servers deliver content is so utterly easy that I can't see how can be anything but incompetent.
  • Then do what I do ... don't use XML.
  • [mailto] to ask for permission to link to their pages.

    This gets you to

    Karen Rugh, director
    Department of University Relations

    312 Old Main
  • I think a simple cookie could stop the problem. Set a cookie with a time stamp on the front page, check for it on the other pages. Many other ways too.


  • It's a good thing deep hyperlinking is legal. Rob would not do well in the joint.

  • I'm certain we'll see some site redesigns which include advertising and logos on the same page as the content.

    Basically, less work for lawyers trying to stop linking through the courts and more work for web designers who actually use the technology.

  • To me having people link into select portions of another site seems goofy. Often one individual will put together a webpage that includes several frames of html, images, etc. I would expect that as the author of said page I should have a certain amount of control of how my copyrighted material was presented and not have to make sure that every image, every hunk of html, every script included a notice of how to get to the real page.

    But being who I am I wouldn't make it so that you can't get the page. Instead I would make the page say something terribly damaging to the linker and ensure that the only way to generate that page is to enter my site in a manner I didn't intend. Thus if I was JoeBusiness-dot-com and FredBusiness-dot-com linked to me, then I would put up a page that says "FredBusiness-dot-com sells substandard product/whatever."

    Then there's the issue of bandwidth consumtion, etc. If someone is gaining from content on my site and it costs me money for them to do so, I think I would certainly make sure that their business was damaged somehow.

    Finally, like I said above it's a technical problem not a legal problem.
  • Or you could just look for accesses from a certain domain/site/whatever and provide a different page. Once you've identified the problem there are easy solutions to prevent wankers from abusing you via technical trickery.
  • I think you would then probably be interested to the wonderful world of slander litigation if you didn't have any proof to back up your claim.

    It's all in how you phrase it.
  • by Anonymous Coward at that point was attempting to be a meta-index of all tickets on sale everywhere.

    The idea was that, instead of having to go to the web sites of every single company and organisation that sells event tickets, you'd be able to just go to and search. would be making revenue by advertising on its index pages.

    Ticketmaster, of course, would rather you did the searching on its own site, and made it the first place you look.

    The same scenario is being played out in many industries; for example, sites that are meta-indexes of auction sites or whatever.

    Ticketmaster sued, alleging a whole host of things. Some of them may or may not have merit -- but the allegation that linking could be a breach of COPYRIGHT law was clearly nonsense, as can be seen by it being dismissed by the judge.

    No copying takes place, after all; you're just saying 'go here'.

    It's still to be decided if/how linking to another site might be misrepresentation and/or a breach of TRADEMARK law, but whether or not were doing the wrong thing doesn't change the fact that COPYRIGHT was never an issue.

    Even if you think was 100% in the wrong, you should still applaud this decision.
  • The idea was that, instead of having to go to the web sites of every single company and organisation that sells event tickets, you'd be able to just go to and search. would be making revenue by advertising on its index pages.

    Of course, Ticketmaster's claim that ended up being just a copy of their website is largely because of another fact Ticketmaster isn't fond of admitting - they have monopoly position in the advance ticket sales market.
  • Ticketmaster is NOT a monopoly.

    I point you to this site [], and I'll leave it at that.
  • Well, what a surprise: hyperlinks are legal! I really like the term "alleged hyperlinking" used in the article. As if. Folks, the whole idea behind the Web is that it consists of hyperlinks. Originally the whole of the Web was supposed to be connected such that you could get from one place to another via these links, without ever having to type a URL.

    Attempting to prevent this was just another way that large businesses could corrupt and usurp an existing system, and this judge clearly made the right decision -- even if his reasoning seemed to be in the wrong context.
  • OK, so it's legal to deep link. Now, to what extent do people working in web site design consider that appropriate behavior? I'm curious what the netiquette is.
  • D'ya suppose this will have any effect on those auction search engine companies that e-Bay (sued|is suing)? Sure e-Bay owns the actual database of auctions, but they offer up the pages- if the free and open pages are then cataloged and deep-linked to, then e-Bay can go piss up a rope, no?
  • Actually, I doubt they'd mind.

    Now, if you somehow stripped out their advertising, they might have a problem.

    You probably wouldn't get enough traffic to make it worth complaining about though.

    - Jeff A. Campbell
    - VelociNews ( [])
  • See for yourself. Go to, search for San Antonio Spurs, and look at the first event. Look at the URL. Now modify the URL to go through your web server and you will notice the lack of a referrer.
  • This would work, except that Ticketmaster wants certain approved sites to be able to link to their events. To implement encrypted URLs, morphing URLs, etc, would require implementation on the side of the Ticketmaster partners. Apparently, this was farther than Ticketmaster wanted to push its partners.
  • What do you mean a URL rewriter? How can a page on one site change the referrer to look like it came from another site? I can't think of a situation where a smart enough referrer-checker couldn't be written. A more technical explination of your statement would be helpful.
  • > proxy the page from my server

    But then you would be copying and redistributing the file and that *would* be a clear copyright infringement.
  • > b) Referrer is supplied by the client.

    Yes, individuals can beat "referrer", but won't be able to put a simple link on their site and expect anyone to get through. In fact, it's *because* the clients supply referrer (rather than, say the referrer) that makes it a good solution. You can't expect Joe Blow browsing your site to set up junkbuster to lie about the referrer...
  • Besides the fact that making a place deep in a totally different website open up inside a frame on your website is incredibly obnoxious, and bad design, and irritates and wastes the screenspace of the people viewing, it isn't quite as easy to defend ethically or legally.

    While i know nothing and you should not be listening to me, keep in mind the differences: a link is really nothing more than a statement saying "this is where this piece of information is" in a way that the computer can retrieve that bit of information. attempting to ban that without permission has some pretty serious First Amendment issues. if they ban the HTML <A HREF="$#@@(*U&&!( ">You can buy what you're looking for here</A>, can they ban the words "You can buy the ticket from the ticketmaster website at the adress "$#@@(*U&&!("? What about the words "You can buy the ticket from the ticketmaster outlet on 2343 Westheimer Street"? I see no difference between the three, they're just simple information on where to locate something.

    Meanwhile framing is a bit more iffy. By framing you are presenting the content as being yours, which has some intellectual property theft/fraud implications which are a great deal less rediculous than whatever basis you'd try to stop linking on. Even if the framing is done in a non-misleading manner, most internet users are not intelligent enough to figure out that the ticketmaster window inside the website is a different website.
    I suggest if you're going to deep-link to a competitor, you do it so the link opens in a new window. But, again, if you listen to me you're an idiot.

    >It still does not stop them from litigation the case over and over.

    Hasn't Ticketmaster already sued Microsoft because MSN was deep-linking to them? Does that ruling not apply here? Was there a ruling?

  • OK, If you're linking to another site's content, where are you making your cut from?
    If I was, I'd be trying to get customers to buy through me, not ticketmaster. Why would I be acknowledging my competitors existence, let alone content?
  • Hey, is the tide turning? Are judges coming up to speed in defense of the freedom of the net? WE can at least hope so -- given this ruling and a couple of statements by legal scholars recently about the whole DCMA fiasco.

    Of course, Big Business, even a monopoly like Ticket Master won't go down without a fight:

    Ticketmaster plans to file an amended complaint attempting to reinstate the dismissed claims.
    *Sigh* Guess I'll have to hold off on concerts for a while too... (in addition to boycotting Amazon for the 1-click lawsuit, and anything associated with the MPAA for the deCSS lawsuits)

    Guess it's a good thing I can post on /. for entertainment -- otherwise I might end up on somebody's W.A.V.E list. ;-)

  • Go rent "Miracle on 34th Street."
  • If you try to jump to that link, you will find that you are not authorized to read that page. So how are we supposed to know what the policy is?

    Furthermore, while what I can see of the policy addresses 1) companies, 2) organizations, 3) governments and 4) universities, it doesn't address the most common entity on the web: INDIVIDUALS!

    This story talks about the *legality* of hyperlinking, so the University of Pennsylvania is breaking the law by *not* permitting it.

    And, finally, since presumably the University of Pennsylvania relies on public funding (they are *not* a privately held corporation), this treads dangerously close to government-sponsored, pre-emptive *censorship*.

    IMHO, either they are doing either a crappy job of teaching students about the fundamental freedoms that generations of Americans have enjoyed, or they are doing an excellent job of brainwashing their students into becoming PHBs.

  • hyperlinks on a website from another educational institution (ie. some other university)

    Sorry, that won't work. I tried to get there from another educational institution and they wouldn't let me in. All I wanted to do was look at their fscking policy!

  • What's so bad about noise? You people at slashdot take signal too seriously

    Moderation & meta-moderation are horrible. If the first-posters, Natalie-worshipers and hot-grits-pourers would go away they wouldn't be necessary. That's what's wrong with trying to get a first post.
  • Proof, if proof were needed, that karma does not work. Here we have someone who, by dint of thoughtful posting and so on, has been moderated up enough times to get the +1 bonus, but who can't do anything better with it than to first post.

    Plus, he can't spell "first post".

    Plus, he wasn't even first.

    Plus, if I were going to post something completely offtopic, I'd check the "No Score +1 Bonus" box to avoid moderators overly keen on the "overrated" option. Like this.
  • Well obvious to me anyway, maybe not to lawyers. Just take your banana and out run the gorilla. Oh wait, that's the solution to another problem. No, the real solution is to check the referer. A more complex is to maintain sessions within your website. And return hard core goat sex with children porn for everything else.
  • Don't get me wrong, I think the judge made the best decision possible in this case, but this is just another example of the e-lawsuit ad absurdum.

    absurd? yes. Important? Yes. What this really does is set a precendent, as dumb as this stuff may seem when applied to common sense, it is good in the long run. These type of rulings give those running websites some sort of legal backing if the y link and the site tries to go after them. This doesn't protect those mirroring w/o permission or linking and hiding the url in a frame say so that you can't tell what site it is.

    If ticketmaster were really miffed they could simply block the originating site's ip/domain anyway. This was probably more of an attempt to either squash the little guy or generate some pr.
  • a) Most legal teams are probably not up on HTTP headers, in the same way I am not up on Roe vs. Wade.

    b) Referrer is supplied by the client. Something I do a lot on sites that disallow direct access to program binaries (wanting you to visit one of their add infested pages first) is:

    $ lwp-request -H"Referer:"

    In other words, I'm lying through my teeth about the referrer.

    P.S. Referrer has four r's, HTTP standard be damned.
  • Nah, don't be silly. If I want to bypass this, and I own a web site, I'll write a 3 line Perl script to proxy the page from my server, and set the referer appropriately. Child's play, if you're determined enough.


    Cthulhu for President! []
  • But I don't think that's bad; in fact, it makes my inner libertarian quite happy. That's what makes the web so great! I can put anything I want on my site, and you can put anything you want on your site (including any URL you like).

    And of course, it goes without saying that just because you ask me for a page I don't have to give it to you; I might put conditions on that. (Like charging you for it, or making you look at an ad or a silly splash screen.)

    The only way there could be a legal recourse is if the government has the right to tell me how my site has to look and work, and I don't think anyone wants that.

  • You don't check to be sure that REFERER !=, you check that REFERER ==
    This not only avoids the problem of cheating, it means you don't have to update it when start siphoning your stuff too.

    Alternatively, you can use cookies, or use URLs with magic numbers that are only good for a given session (or time out, or whatever).

    (I forget which ticket mongers are which, so I'll refer to them as and, where has the real information and is siphoning it off.)

    Or make sure your pages always include information identifying them as yours - put them in the text, or stripe the top of the images with your site info, or at least add your own advertising banners, so that the reader can figure out that it's your page they're seeing even if it's got somebody else's header frames around it.

  • There have been other cases like this, particularly some of the UK newspaper "framing" cases, where the judges have clearly not gotten it. This was a big win, and web publishers that don't want people linking into their sites can easily enough deploy technology to prevent it, rather than going whining to judges.
  • Last week I was fortunate to hear Lawrence Lessig, an American law professor, speaking on Internet law (HP Labs, Bristol).
    He's a superb speaker, and quite changed my views on lawyers 8-)

    One of his central points was that although "Form may not quite follow Function" on the 'Net as yet, Usage quite definitely follows Form. Laws are the way they are, not because they're an arbitrary construct errected in a void, but because they're a codification of behaviour that is almost implicit in how the environment already works. This is good law, at least -- a law that tries to go against reality is sen as a bad law and may not be observed with any respect or dutifulness.

    So where does that leave deep-linking ? Well, IMHO, if you technically can deep-link, then it's ridiculous to try and simply ban it. It's not going to happen - deep-linking will continue, despite.

    Do I support deep-linking ? No, not at all. I think the argument that providing this content costs money and should only be available to those who play ball with the entire revenue stream model (you don't have to buy from there, but you should at least receive the banner ads).

    Can we fix this tehnically ? Of course we can! If you're a potentially linked-to site, then it's far from rocket-science to see where the links are coming from, how they're presented, and to take appropriate action. Making all my pages self-unframing is obvious, but there's a lot more too. If want to link traffic to my site, then I'd love them to do that - it's better than buying advertising space. If I was a truly dynamic marketeer, then I'd have a range of special offers in pop-up boxes, all ready to launch when I detected the incoming link. "Hi, you've been redirected to from - look at the special 10% off deals we've built just to steal your business back from them."

    Lawrence Lessig has a book out Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace [], on this and other topics. I strongly recommend it.

  • The HTTP idea is better, but even more annoying to those trying to refrence your site would be to add expiring keys to the url. You could do this by simply renaming the files periodically, perhaps adding random nonsense to the name, or by fake links that your server maps to real names. Your site would have to be capable of dynamically conforming to the ever changing filenames. This is somewhat annoying, but much less so if you are using a good server side scripting language (they are few and far between) where you could replace real page names with variables, ie. any request of 5ad523f13114446111abbes.htm gets directed to realfilename.htm. It's a little harder passing session/form info, but not that much harder.

    This is not necessarily fool proof, depending on how you do it, those trying to deep link into your site can still try to examine your site each time it wants to serve their page linking to yours. This should not be a big deal to implement at medium sized web site, and it's probably cheaper to pay programmers to do this than paying legal fees on a topic which may get you bad press.

    I think you should be able to hard link or even frame anyone's site. Companies don't have to make it easy, however.

  • Today, if someone deep links to me, I can cut them off based on referrer, or I can make sure that my content delivers whatever message that customers missed by not visiting my precious home page.

    But in the bright, shiny future of XML, the bastard deep linkers will be able to repackage my data to their heart's content.

    Of course, like ticketmaster, the future whiners will be forgetting that it's this unfortunately uncontrollable technology that created this easy-to-play-in marketplace to begin with!

    Like's lawyer said: them's the rules, you gonna play or not?
  • The judge in this case obviously "gets it." The web is about linking -- HYPERlinking, even. HTTP does not depend on a formal relationship between domains to establish a link one to the other; no, the very act of setting up an HTTP server to accept requests for URLs establishes the invitation for other domains (even competitors) to link at will. Of course, there are ways to block and/or control access to certain parts, but this restriction requires extra effort by the domain administration: access is assumed granted unless otherwise stopped.

    This is certainly unique to the Internet (and to the WWW specifically). Where in "real life" can store A sell stores B's inventory in an attempt to trick venture capitalist C that A's sales are booming? Such a thing is not possible!

    So I am amazed that in the court room, where so much is based on case history, such a ruling could be decreed that ''deep linking by itself . . . does not necessarily involve unfair competition.'' I somewhat figured the court would not see the unique circumstances and environment of the WWW and rule that hyperlinking is not allowed without express permission, or some-such progress-reversing, revolution-stopping, Web-breaking judgment.

    This is a good day for the World Wide Web.

    On the other hand, could you imagine having to set up Trust Domains [] (a la WinNT) between websites before linking one to another? Yikes!

  • I loved this quote from the lawyer.

    ''They are an open site and are a member of the free Internet community,'' attorney Daniel Harris said of Ticketmaster. ''They have to live by the rules of that community as it has grown up.''

    If you cant do business here on the pre established ground rules, then dont do busines here. It's quiet annoying to see business always whinying because they started a website and now they arent making a billion dolars a day like they thought. So, their first response seems to be blame the other web site for cheating. DOn't buy into the hype of the internet because there just isnt enogh reality to that hype. Do your reserch, then do some more research, then start working on your idea, then do a little more research. But, for god's sakes, stop suing everybody because you didn't get rich and they did.

    Of course, I have to wonder if the suit wasn't jsut an excuse to by tickmaster to drive out of business.

  • From the article the judge did not rule framing legal. Just deep linking.

    And of course, this ruling may not be applicable to your jurisdiction.

    It still does not stop them from litigation the case over and over. They plan on appealing, of course.

    Ah, he's just a little guy with a slingshot. I'm not afraid. --- Goliath

  • People can put on shows without ticket master... It's just that they choose to use them

    Not [exactly] true. Venues have contracts in place that binds them to use certain providers (usually TicketMaster) and they aren't allowed to choose different providers for different events.

    So, Yes you can put on a show without TicketMaster, you just can't do it at most venues. Unfortunately this means an event has to be held at a venue that is not optimum (whether it be less capacity or whatever).

    Pearl Jam tried to tour several years ago without using TicketMaster. They ended up playing places half the size the should have (why they didn't add extra nights I don't know.) and IIRC they ended up cancelling the tour halfway through.


  • The judge ruled that it was Ok as long as customers knew what site they were dealing with, I haven't seen, but relize that you could still be in trouble if you don't lable the link well enough. People do honestly need to know where they are and who they are dealing with.


  • You're making your cut from the amount of hits you have on your front page, viewing your banner ads.

    I would assume (after reading the article) that Ticketmaster's upset because people don't have to go through their front page and read all of their ads, they only have to read one page on TM's site -- which reduces the number of pagehits required to actually buy a ticket from somewhere around seven to somewhere around three (pick event (read an ad), pick number and location of tickets (read an ad), pay for tickets (read an ad).

    Meanwhile, the competitor picks up those first four pageviews to locate the show, and looks like they're doing quite a bit more business than they actually are.

    Of course, anything that annoys Ticketmaster is okay in my book ;-)

  • The rules for hyperlinking are already established. They are built into the HTTP protocol.

    When you put your web pages out on the internet, it isn't like you're putting up a glassed-in storefront that you _allow_ people to see. It's more like you're stringing your possessions out in the middle of a busy public intersection. The whole concept is that people can walk right up and look at what they want without a 'guide' telling them what to think or see. If they have been directed to the 'store' from a competitor's 'store,' well tough shit.

    This bothers marketing and salespeople immensely, because their whole way of getting you to be a sucker is to frame the product in such a way as it looks attractive and you have the right 'idea' about it.

    Businessmen and lawyers who don't understand this basic premise of HTTP and the net in general deserve to be hoist on their own petard. If they don't want people looking at the contents of their site via direct hyperlink, they can shut the doors and require secure access to get in. This will reduce the number of hits on their site. I for one refuse to go to a site that requires my registration. I know plenty of others who do the same for reasons of basic privacy. . .
  • This brings some questions to mind. Here is a list of things that I can do technically. Are they all OK? Or are any of these going to get me in hot water?

    1. A price comparison engine - backed by the database that is built by robots I built that scour other websites product listings.
    2. Image grabbers. Say I want to have pictures for the products I'm comparing prices for. Is it OK for me to program a robot to retrieve these pictures, if they are publically displayed.
    3. For that matter, content grabbers. Say I want to have reviews on my comparison engine site. Is it OK for me to grab other reviews from websites? Does it matter whether the content is original or not?
    4. News grabbers. Can I take news and stock quotes from other sites and use them on mine?

    As you can see, if the above were all legal, it pretty much enables anyone with some programming talent to create a really killer site. Obviously, I'd have to put things together in an original way. But being able to aggregate content by myself without having to ask or deal would be a great boon.

    Please comment!

  • I think what you'll find among webmasters is that most have no problem with people deep hyperlinking to their sites. Hay, it's traffic whether it comes in from the frontpage, or sideways. It's the big corporations and e-businesses that feel otherwise, such as eBay. Then again, they seem to have a problem with the slightest of things. Part of their strategy to keep "real" copyright infringers at arms length.

  • It's the same thing more or less with security and cracking, and viruses. Major corporations skimp on real security and then just have the law smack down on whoever walks in. It's like, if I never lock the door to my house, or if I leave home with the door wide open, sooner or later somebody's going to wander in. Then they see nobody is around, so they take advantage of this opportunity to lift my stuff. Well, if I really wanted it so bad I would have probably had the sense to lock my door. The law shouldn't waste one cent of taxpayer money going after the guy, he did everyone a favor by teching me a lesson.

    Take Melissa. The guy didn't write a bloody virus. It was more of a wake-up call to all of the people bumbling around trusting Microsoft's default insecure settings, saying "Hey, if you're running this crap, you're setting yourself up. They're setting you up." How much data did it destroy? How much data was it intended to destroy? What did it even do at all that was illegal? Sent a few porn site passwords to minors, which it was not even targetted towards because the original recipients were adults. Last I checked writing self-propagating macros, not even code, in and of itself is not illegal. Should not microsoft be sued for leaving this open door for much more insidious purposes to exploit? (can we say "chernobyl?") I think so.
  • by Eccles ( 932 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2000 @10:51AM (#1162188) Journal
    The only thing missing from the ruling is the judge didn't also rule that Ticketmaster is *the* company most deserving of a Justice Department anti-trust investigation.

    Oh well, maybe next time.
  • by slothbait ( 2922 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2000 @11:15AM (#1162189)
    ...its like posting a sign in your front lawn with a note attached that said "if you don't own this house, then you'd *better* not be looking here".

    Ticketmaster's claim was obscene, too, but they are a company. Corporate greed tends to overshadow reason. Universities, though? They shouldn't be motivated by the same factors as companies, and they should be more knowledgable about what it means to be on the internet.

    After all, in the early days, the internet was pretty much all .edu and .mil. Its .com that are the new-comers. And what a culture clash it has created!

  • by cjsnell ( 5825 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2000 @12:25PM (#1162190) Journal sends the deep link through a URL rewriter which nullifies the referrer header. It's not a good idea to block everyone with null referrer headers because many corporate browsers and proxies strip these headers.
  • by joshv ( 13017 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2000 @10:56AM (#1162191)
    If you don't want people to deep link. Only accept external referers for the home page.

    I realize this requires a bit more overhead, but for christ sake, why sue over something that can be stopped with a technical tweak.

  • by sharkey ( 16670 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2000 @12:57PM (#1162192)
    "Please, PLEASE don't let anyone know about our school! We have too much interest as it is! When will you people learn that our staff will enjoy their jobs sooooooooo much more if no-one can look us up on a search engine, be referred to us by alumni or get any info about us at all! We are trying to cut our student body down to zero, so our staff no longer has to put out any effort, and can spend their days in idle luxury."
  • by Anonymous Shepherd ( 17338 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2000 @10:58AM (#1162193) Homepage
    Maybe because different ticket outlets have access to different events?

    I dunno about you, but as a consumer, I like having the diversity... if I do a search on Amazon for a book, and it doesn't carry it, I'd love it if they linked to another bookstore, as long as the other bookstore did have it...

    All in the name of customer service!

    As long as your competitor offers different service than yours, it doesn't hurt you to acknowledge them. It only highlights the differences; it's up to you, as a provider, to make sure the differences aren't negative in your direction, I think!

  • by dillon_rinker ( 17944 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2000 @12:50PM (#1162194) Homepage
    You make some good points, but I think you missed a critical one. Ticketmaster, rather than paying some techies to FIX the problem, paid some lawyers to file a frivoulous suit that had no merit, and which could have set a very dangerous precedent, had the judge and appeals court been clueless (this is ENTIRELY possible; read a random sampling of early decisions related to the internet). Ticketmaster's behavior was like me using a .50 caliber machine gun to shoot your dog when it craps on my lawn. Sure, I'm justified in doing SOMETHING, but I did the wrong thing and endangered a lot of uninvolved people.
  • In fact I hope everyone emails the Executive Director of University Relations.

    Perhaps we could ask if we can link to the page about the "Linux Demo Day" they are having on April 5th.
  • by Randym ( 25779 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2000 @02:46PM (#1162196)
    Try this [].

    Make sure you are coming from a university site too. Note that the difference between the two links that makes it work is the addition of a "www" before "guru". The other link is for usage only by staff *within* the university.

    BTW, there are *certain* sites that have a "blanket exemption" to link into Penn State's pages: search engines.

  • by coaxial ( 28297 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2000 @11:05AM (#1162197) Homepage
    Okay, if, the web version of a larger corporate business, is an "open site", then what is a closed site? Intranet?

    If it's designed for the general public to use, (i.e. any random website), then it's open. If it's backbehind a firewall it would be a "closed" site. (Of course you shouldn't even know about this site outside the firewall, but you get the idea.) I would go as far as to say that if it's a subscription only site that for some bizare reason only authenticates at the index.html, but not at /foo/bar.html, then it's "closed". Of course if you link to /foo/bar.html and it says, "Hey! You didn't pay us!" then deep linking isn't a problem, because then only the subscribers can follow the deep links.

    So in short, it's "open" unless someone screwed up REALLY badly, then it's "closed" so that they can cover their ass.
  • by Wah ( 30840 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2000 @10:56AM (#1162198) Homepage Journal
    Very good ruling for the health of the Web.

    And a VERY good ruling for /. and the various other (cringe) weblogs out there.

    Glad to see this isn't going to be another problem lawsuit. If a site doesn't want people deep linking there are plenty of technological ways to prohibit it, legislation is not necessary.

  • by M-2 ( 41459 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2000 @11:03AM (#1162199) Homepage

    (I talked about this in the Ask Slashdot about the 'Death of the Net As We Know It, and I'm rehashing now.)

    What we need to do is set up a briefing packet for Congress. All of them. Discussions of the flaws in the DMCA, of UCITA, of the attacks on DeCSS and on anti-filtering. Logical, reasoned arguments against what's there already. Maybe sponsored by the EFF. Or a made-up think-tank with a grandiose title. (Sure, let's USE the ideas that work! We'll Open Source some political tricks!)

    Any interest? I'd work on it, but I'm not sure I want to do it all by myself. I'd need some fact checkers, and some editors.

  • by ucblockhead ( 63650 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2000 @01:35PM (#1162200) Homepage Journal
    Why don't they just use a registration screen and a cookie?

    As others have noted, the NY Times does exactly this, and it prevents access without registering and therefore seeing all the main banner pages.

    Or they could simply look for a cookie, and if it isn't there, simply throw up a screen saying "Welcome to Ticketmaster!" that then loads the target url after 15 seconds. They wouldn't even need to enforce registration, then. Then only create the cookie in the main page and change that hourly. No one has to change an URL, yet everyone is fully aware that they are entering ticketmaster's site.

    How much coding time would that take? How much did their lawyers charge?

  • by ChristTrekker ( 91442 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2000 @12:56PM (#1162201)

    I agree, it's a shady practice, and fraudulent misrepresentation.

    But couldn't this be solved by having a standard logo/footer on every page that says "TICKETMASTER" or the equivalent? Then who cares if someone deep links you in a frame. Nobody's going to believe the page belongs to anybody but you.

  • by monsoon ( 94928 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2000 @11:22AM (#1162202)
    Much of your cut comes from advertising revenue. You skip the hard work of building a large database (of events or tickets in this case), but still have a lot of click-through to show potential advertisers. Also you get people hooked on your site before your development is finished - I'm sure eventually wants to build up the capability that ticketmaster has, but doesn't want to wait that long to develop a customer base.
  • by Syn.Terra ( 96398 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2000 @10:52AM (#1162203) Homepage Journal

    Good decision on the ruling, it will make things easier on us poor web-builders. But one question on the article...

    ''They are an open site and are a member of the free Internet community,'' attorney Daniel Harris said of Ticketmaster. ''They have to live by the rules of that community as it has grown up.'

    Okay, if, the web version of a larger corporate business, is an "open site", then what is a closed site? Intranet? And what's this "free internet community"? Everytime the Internet community tries to get something for free (ie. mp3) there's a big hullabaloo and somebody gets sued. Twice.

    And who says is a member of *any* community? They're a business, they want to make money, not talk with people. Also I've never read any "rules" about hyperlinking, and doubt any exist.

    A good court ruling, a really, really dopey quote at the end. Thankfully he didn't pipe this stuff in court, else they could have lost.

  • by bubbasatan ( 99237 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2000 @10:48AM (#1162204) Homepage
    that I can still use a hyperlink? A shortcut to another file, presumably on another web site? Gosh, what will the government uphold next, the ability to use ASCII characters? I mean, it's getting a little absurd when TicketMaster is trying to sue somebody for linking to them. /. better be careful, USAToday might get mad about linking to that story. Don't get me wrong, I think the judge made the best decision possible in this case, but this is just another example of the e-lawsuit ad absurdum.
  • by onyxruby ( 118189 ) <<ten.tsacmoc> <ta> <yburxyno>> on Wednesday March 29, 2000 @11:13AM (#1162205)
    Ticketmaster is proposing links are illegal? How long before we need disclaimers on hyperlinks? Before clicking this link please sign this contract. Posting a link, any link, is no different that posting a shipping address. After all you are not posting any proprietary data, just a link to someone elses data. By their same reasoning you could sue the post office.

    It has been perfectly acceptable for car manufactures to quote their competitions product, price, and features for years. They are providing information about a competing product, the same information any consumer could get. By providing a link, you are doing the same thing. The only potential abuse for this is to claim their work as your own, a simple disclaimer ought to take care of that.

  • by shren ( 134692 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2000 @11:27AM (#1162206) Homepage Journal

    I think that various commercial websites have figured out ways around deep linking, anyway. You just, via perl script or something, rename the deeper pages every day or so, but also rename the links within the pages, so the site links together as before, but only the front page retains a persistant name. Hey, TicketMaster! For half of what you're paying your lawyers I'll save you from that mean ol'

    Uh, yeah.

    "various commerical websites". Not that I patronize these web sites, you understand. They just tend to be at the forefront of, uh, 'agressive html design'.

  • by ComradePenguin ( 164454 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2000 @06:17PM (#1162207) Homepage
    To:Ziff-Davis Publishing
    From:United States Dept. of Justice

    We have examined your website [] and have found that it is a special case.Our rulling on hyperlinking on a page doesn't apply to your extensively and seemingly arbitrarily hyperlinked pages.As a result we have consulted the geek community at large and have determined that your sentence is one(1) bombardment aka 'Slashdot Effect'This sentence is effective immediately.

    Have a nice day.

    The penguins have revolted...Visit The UPGR []
  • by SgtPepper ( 5548 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2000 @11:04AM (#1162208)
    Okay, if, the web version of a larger corporate business, is an "open site", then what is a closed site? Intranet?

    An open site is ANY site put out on the net, so yes you got it, a closed site is the Intranet, if you don't want to deal with the people in your town then don't leave your house. :) That's the way it is.

    And what's this "free internet community"? Everytime the Internet community tries to get something for free (ie. mp3) there's a big hullabaloo and somebody gets sued. Twice.

    Free as in speech not beer. :)

    And who says is a member of *any* community? They're a business, they want to make money, not talk with people. is most assuredly a memeber of a community. Any group of people in a single place can be considered a community and business help make that community. You might as well try to get away with saying that Churches want to save souls not talk to people.

    Also I've never read any "rules" about hyperlinking, and doubt any exist.

    There is such a thing as "Common Law" and Common Law says that you are able to link to ANY sites freely and are in fact incouraged to do so. I wonder how many of's customers decided to poke around's site after they were taken to it. Quite a number I bet.

    A good court ruling, a really, really dopey quote at the end.

    Okay, okay you win that /was/ dopey :)

    Sgt Pepper

  • by FascDot Killed My Pr ( 24021 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2000 @10:53AM (#1162209)
    Presumably still doesn't LIKE deep-linking (despite being forced to accept it). So what if they implement a technical solution (of which there are many, some already mentioned here)? We still lose the feature of deep interconnectivity but I'm sure there's no legal recourse: "Hey judge! Make them let us deep link!"

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 29, 2000 @12:03PM (#1162210)
    [disclaimer: I'm a former employee of TMCS]

    I certainly agree that we don't want to make
    hyperlinking illegal but before you all go overboard with the Ticketmaster bashing, let me give you a little bit of background on this one. was doing more than just hyperlinking. They were basically pretending that the content to which they were linking was their own. It's sort of like Slashdot linking to stories on,, etc. (like it does) but all the while framing this content within their own site and never acknowledging that it is's content, other than a tiny little fine-print tag that tells the customer that they are buying this ticket from an some "other site". The effect is, customers think they are buying the ticket from, not

    This is a pretty shady practice on the part of Here is why they did this: they want to be able to tell venues allied with Ticketmaster, "Hey, look, we sell tickets to every venue in the US!" in order to win over Ticketmaster's venue customers.
  • by SgtPepper ( 5548 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2000 @10:48AM (#1162211)
    ''They are an open site and are a member of the free Internet community,'' attorney Daniel Harris said of Ticketmaster. ''They have to live
    by the rules of that community as it has grown up.''

    If only /all/ companies and individuals that join our `little' world would abide by that simple statement all our grief and woe would be unheard of. That's the way it's suppose to be, no?


    This is a very good thing IMHO has it vindicates the way hypertext and the net is set up. Free form, stream of thought linking. Make that illegal and our whole net falls apart.

    Sgt Pepper
  • by LordSaxman ( 118168 ) on Wednesday March 29, 2000 @11:03AM (#1162212)
    This lawsuit reminds me of an amusing policy [] Penn State recently passed banning most links to any of it's webpages.


    Unless authorized by the Executive Director of University Relations (who will consult with the University Licensing Committee on trademark issues when necessary), no company or organization may place a link on its site to any Penn State web page. Links from government and educational (e.g., other university) web pages are permitted.

"An open mind has but one disadvantage: it collects dirt." -- a saying at RPI