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Danish Court Rules Deep Linking Illegal 382

Jstein writes "In a court ruling today Friday, the court in Copenhagen, Denmark ruled in favor of the Danish Newspaper Publisher's Association against the online news aggregator Newsbooster. Thereby deep linking has been ruled illegal for the first time." Currently the story is only in Danish (from Computerworld Denmark, Online). Update: 07/05 23:15 GMT by T : ttyp writes "Here is a link to an English language story about the Danish deep linking case."
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Danish Court Rules Deep Linking Illegal

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  • by grungebox ( 578982 ) on Friday July 05, 2002 @12:36PM (#3828005) Homepage
    Deep linking is when you link to an interior page. For example, Ticketmaster filed a lawsuit a while back (I think) against sites that linked users directly to interior pages to buy tickets for a specific show. Instead of going to and then searching for, say, Radiohead...a site that linked directly to the "Buy Radiohead tickets" page would be in violation.
    This lawsuit is pretty deep.
  • More info (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 05, 2002 @12:38PM (#3828023)
    Here's [] another article on this. Sorry, danish and pdf, but very informative.
  • by User 956 ( 568564 ) on Friday July 05, 2002 @12:39PM (#3828027) Homepage
    Wired News [] has a similar interesting article about a cease and desist letter [] sent to an independant news site [] by Belo [], corporate parent of The Dallas Morning News [], forbidding them from linking to individual stories within the site. They claim that the author can only link to the site's homepage, and attempting to link to stories [] within [] the site violates their copyright.
  • by mortenf ( 191503 ) on Friday July 05, 2002 @12:42PM (#3828039) Homepage
    Actually, the ruling is not that deep links are illegal, it's a temporary ruling that makes Newsbooster take their service down until a real trial can be held.

    Newsbooster has a press release [] on the matter.
  • by Mad-Mage1 ( 235582 ) <{infosecguy.mb} {at} {}> on Friday July 05, 2002 @12:42PM (#3828042) Homepage
    Actually the effect will be rather pronounced. Denmark is part of the European Union, as a matter of fact they were recently confirmed to the office of the Presidency for the EU. Since the EU holds laws across national borders in certain cases, there is the potential here for deep-linking cases to be heard all over the EU and use the Danish Case as a precedent. Think on that and say it is only negligible.
  • For more reading... (Score:2, Informative)

    by chacha ( 166659 ) on Friday July 05, 2002 @12:50PM (#3828110)
    There's a story on Yahoo news regarding the deep linking brouhaha - it was written before the actual decision, but goes into what the big deal is. I will now deep link to it: deep linking story []. Ironic, eh?
  • by fermion ( 181285 ) on Friday July 05, 2002 @12:57PM (#3828169) Homepage Journal
    While deep linking to individual pages within a web site is generally a good thing, what about data mining a site and displaying content as ones own? I would like to know if this ruling has more do wi'th deep linking or data mining.

    For instance, we should be able to send a browser to any page 'within' a site, but what about aggregating information or links in a way the designer of the website never intended, or publishing the information in a new media. Is there much difference between data mining a web site and publishing public comments on a site such as /. in dead tree form? I certainly do not know, but it seems to be a relevant question.

    There are clearly limits to deep linking. Jakob Nielson gives the example of a quiz [] on his site. Going to anywhere but the first page of the quiz renders the process meaningless. It is true that in most cases you want as much help as possible to get a user to an 'inner' page, as this appears to one of the greatest impediment to usability, but do we really want people to pull, for example, images or frames from our sites and display them as their own content. As the previous NPR discussion []illustated, there are times when this will unfairly transfer hosting costs

  • Clarification (Score:5, Informative)

    by Penguin ( 4919 ) on Friday July 05, 2002 @12:58PM (#3828172) Homepage

    I was present at the court (yup, I'm a Dane) - and let me clarify the matter:

    First of all, this is only the first part of the case, whether Newsbooster should be temporarily prohibited until the case is settled. Todays case wasn't settled by a judge, only a "bailiff" (according to my Danish/English translator :)

    Second, the Danish Newspaper Publisher's Association weren't concerned about search engines like Google or just a few deep links. Newsbooster did a systematic index and furthermore sold services for update-information whenever your predefined search words matched any news article.

    Third, the case is very specific and isn't as much about technical details as it is of legal matter. It was concluded that Newsbooster was in violation of Danish law of marketing ("good ethics", mainly concerning not gaining/harvesting of other companies products and services) and Danish law of intellectual property, since the articles at the Danish newspapers' sites were to be considered as a database, an index. Databases are also covered by the law of intellectual property (as a simple example: A name and an address wouldn't itself be protected by the law, but an index like a phone book would as a whole) - and since Newsbooster copied what would be considered as a database, the ruling was against Newsbooster.

    Danish Newspaper Publisher's Association is obligated to present the case in court in less than two weeks. There wouldn't be created a precedent until that case is ruled.


    And some personal comments: My hope was that Newsbooster wouldn't be prohibited, but the following meeting at FDIH [] (Foreningen for Dansk Internet Handel / The Danish eBusiness Association) mostly concerned techniques like robots.txt, usage of Referer and stuff like that.

    I believe it's important to notice that the violation might have nothing to do with links, search engines and other tools, and as such the problem shouldn't be solved with technology.

  • Re:breakin the law (Score:3, Informative)

    by Penguin ( 4919 ) on Friday July 05, 2002 @01:03PM (#3828204) Homepage
    Computerworld actually would like to intervene with Newsbooster, but wasn't allowed.

    Furthermore, since the case is under private prosecution, Computerworld would have to run their own case against /. - and the case would be an entirely different. The arguments against Newsbooster wouldn't be relevant (if Computerworld would make a fuzz about it - but as mentioned, Computerworld supports Newsbooster in this case)

    And let me emphasize: We don't have a final ruling yet.
  • Precisely... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Beautyon ( 214567 ) on Friday July 05, 2002 @01:04PM (#3828210) Homepage
    And thanks to the European arrest warrant, anyone anywhere can be arrested in Europe for remotely breaking the laws of one European state from another jurisdiction. Your local courts will have no power to stop you being transported and incarcerated in another country by foreign police.

    This is not entirely new. Before this (1996) the Germans were able to raid an address in the Netherlands over the magazine Radikal. Read about it here. []

    The fact is that anywhere in Europe that absurd laws are passed, the practical effect now is that the law is simultaneously passed everywhere , for all people. This is A Bad Thing.
  • Re:breakin the law (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 05, 2002 @01:13PM (#3828263)
    It's not Danish law...

    It's a preliminary injunction against one company.

  • by Monkeyman334 ( 205694 ) on Friday July 05, 2002 @01:15PM (#3828277)
    Here's a post I made a couple months ago on the topic in response to a similar post, I think it's still valid:

    Let me just quickly say, scripts like that is the stupidest abuse of referrers I've ever come across. The referrer is a great tool for following the flow of traffic, not to police flow of traffic. The referrer is set in the browser (client side), it is not something that any browser has to use. And it can be easily spoofed or disabled. If 10% of the websites blocked my traffic based on my referrer, I'd just find a browser that let me turn off the referrer. And I'm sure I'm not alone. So by abusing the referrer, it's more than possible for browsers to just stop sending it, and hurt websites that are trying to watch flow of traffic to help the users out.
  • by hoop33 ( 585222 ) < minus city> on Friday July 05, 2002 @01:35PM (#3828414)
    The irony is that if I click a link to a story, and it takes me instead to a home page that has nothing about the story, I'm not about to spend time finding it on my own. Not allowing deep-linking only hurts companies (like yours)
  • Re:Clarification (Score:5, Informative)

    by prizog ( 42097 ) <novalis-slashdot@ n o v a l i s .org> on Friday July 05, 2002 @01:55PM (#3828557) Homepage
    "... as a simple example: A name and an address wouldn't itself be protected by the law, but an index like a phone book would as a whole."

    Europe has the Database Directive, which grants certain sui generis rights to people who create collections of otherwise uncopyrightable information. These rights are analagous to copyright's restrictions on derivative works, called "extraction" in the database case, and on redistribution, called "re-utilization". These rights last for 15 years.

    The UK and Australia simply grant copyrights to these collections.

    The US doesn't have anything at all like this -- indeed, it's been explicitly ruled many times in the last decade that the constitution doesn't provide any authority to grant such rights. See Feist v. Rural Telephone Service for the specific phone book case, and ADC v. Hamilton for maps.

  • by Ramion ( 178075 ) on Friday July 05, 2002 @03:31PM (#3829215) Journal
    I made a crappy translation. But it should be possible too understand what this is all about.

    By : Kim Elmose

    It is a upset managing director by Newsbooster , Anders Lautrup , there has received the ruling from Copenhagen's court. The judge Michael Kistrup that agrees with Danish Dagblades Forening (DDF) that a injunction agains newsboosters news letter with deep links. The ruling and its premises fills 38 pages.

    - I am deeply choked. We lost at all points , however it is certain , that we will appeal to High court , he says.

    At the courtmeeting monday the 24. june, Newsbooster themselves hit on that deep links is a integral part of the internet's nature and that the service just sents the readers to the others newspapers articles.

    DDF on the otherhand says that Newsbooster steals the work of others. DDF lead two vidner , partly consultant from DDF Holger Rosendal , and president from Berlingske Official Lasse Bolander.

    Last-mentioned tells about about a service that , Berlingske Tidende, Politiken and Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten is on their way with - A service that will allow others too scan from their newspapers.

    Newsbooster lead only one witness in there argumentation , Anders Lautrup. That surprise several media , that newsboosters did no had call in others witness's like from others Netservices and webcatalogs like Jubii (

    To that says Anders Lautrup:

    - You have too be cautions with having a lot of Witness, however looking back at it now, maybe we should have called in a witness from a search service. He said from Copenhagen's newscourt.

    Lawyer: Only first instans settlement
    Lawer from - concern with speciality in IT-Court - Per Meier is participant in a meeting with FDIH friday about the case. He repeatedly says that this is a first instant settlement.

    He has not seen the premisses for the ruling and can therefore not say whether the ruling is surprising or not.

    Hyperlinks is a part of the traditional structure on the internettet , so if the definite settlement too goes agains Newsbooster to, that will presumably get the consequence that several news services will have too reconstruct there shops. So it'll get major importance both legal and convenient , says Per Meier.
  • by jgeelan ( 590550 ) on Friday July 05, 2002 @03:42PM (#3829264)
    Court Rules Against Deep Links 47 The Newsbooster news service must refrain from sending newsletters with deep links to articles on the Web sites of Danish newspapers. Shaken by the decision, Newsbooster director Anders Lautrup conceded that his company had lost on every count. The judge Michael Kistrup upheld the complaint from the Danish Press Association and agreed to its request for an injunction against newsletters with deep links. His decision, including its premisses, runs to 38 pages. "I am deeply shocked. We lost on every count. But we shall most certainly be taking this to the Court of Appeal," said Lautrup. At the 24 June hearing it was Newsbooster's contention that deep links are an intergral part of the Internet itself - and that his Newsbooster service merely shows its readers the easiest way to the newspapers' articles. The Danish Press Association's counter-argument was that Newsbooster piggybacks on work carried out by others. The association called 2 witnesses, Holger Rosendal and Lasse Bolander. Bolander, head of Det Berlingske Officin, told the hearing about a news service that the 3 newspapers Berlingske Tidende, Politiken, and Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten had under development, which will offer a scanning service of the 3 newspapers. Newsbooster called just 1 witness, Anders Lautrup himself. Journalists present were surprised that Newsbooster didn't call further witnesses, for example people from other Net publications or from Web catalogue services like [a Danish equivalent of]. Anders Lautrup comment on that was: "You have to be careful not to call too many witnesses, though with hindsight it might have been wise to have called someone from a search engine." "Hyperlinks are a traditional part of the Net's structure, so if the final decision also goes against Newsbooster, the consequence would be that a great many news services will have to alter their current practice," according to Danish IT expert Per Meier, who adds: "If so such a decision would have considerable legal and practical repercussions."
  • by NewtonsLaw ( 409638 ) on Friday July 05, 2002 @05:07PM (#3829668)
    Sometimes it seems that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

    I consider myself to be one of the pioneers of news aggregation and linking -- having done this on a number of my own sites since 1995.

    Back in 1998 I came into conflict with the Nando Times [] when my [] news site over the use of their headlines and links on the syndicated Java news ticker and news-aggregation pages.

    Nando tried to claim that use of its headlines and links to its pages were a breach of copyright and that anyone wishing to do this would have to pay $100/month [] for
    the privilege.

    I told them to go take a hike and they threatened to sue for breach of copyright. Suffice to say that once they checked with their legal department as to the validity of their claims they decided to back down.

    Although they were one of the first news sites on the Web, Nando simply didn't get the concept that links drive traffic and traffic generates ad revenues -- or at least it did when there were advertisers willing to pay for placements.

    The stupid thing about this whole situation was that the News Ticker became so popular and drove so much traffic to the various sites included on it that if I decided to remove the links to a particular news site I'd often get an email complaining that I *wasn't* linking.

    Around the same time I had similar problems with my Aardvark [] site and found myself battling a long list of local news publishers who threatened legal action if I continued to deep link to the stories they were carrying.

    As with Nando, these sites eventually worked out that traffic = revenues and withdrew their stupid threats.

    I should make it clear that I have a very ethical and honest linking policy [] which I advertise on my sites so that both the linkers and linkees know what I expect and offer. It's a shame that more sites don't do the same so as to avoid confusion and conflict.

    I've been deep linking for some seven years, been threatened with law suits over my linking activities by much bigger publishers on no less than six occasions -- but never had to spend a day in court and never backed down.

    Some people just take longer to learn that the WWW is *made* from deep links and that to disallow them will effectively destroy the fabric of the web.
  • Re:Precisely... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Beautyon ( 214567 ) on Saturday July 06, 2002 @04:35AM (#3831889) Homepage
    No. Lets say someone from England broke a German law. The German police will issue an arrest warant in Berlin, and the English person will be arrested in London and transported to Germany, no questions asked.

    There is nothing that a UK judge can do to stop this, there is no extradition review; this is the problem.

    In France, you have to prove that you are innocent when you are accused of something; there is no notion of "innocent until proven guilty" under the French legal system.

    The new pan European arrest warrant, and the EEC in general is eroding the notion of jurisdiction. This is terrible because Europeans have completely different notions of justice to each other.

    All laws in the EEC are now a sickening hodge podge of the worst legislation of each country. The Lowest Common Denominator if you like.

Disks travel in packs.