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The Internet

Deep Linking Troubles Continue 257

Glothar writes "There is a case currently before the US court system (somewhere) based on one web site linking to content (trailers and other fun stuff) within Universal Pictures' web site. Universal is basically saying it can not be done. There is an article on Wired about it. Basically, they want it to be a copyright infringement. In reality, they are upset because they want everybody to have to look at advertising. However, it may make the URL I just gave you a copyright violation as well. Ironic. " Proof once again that the old school business world has a lot to learn about the Internet.
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Deep Linking Troubles Continue

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  • by bdowne01 ( 30824 )
    As long as big business is run by old men, there will be NO understanding of the internet. Bsides, all they're after is money. That's what companies do. Make money.
  • Hey all,

    I run an atari emulation web site. It's not exactly 'good' but it serves its purpose. On the site there is a large of collection of various files. Now whilst I wouldn't mind someone linking to my site, if they were to link to the files directly then that would get to me. Bandwidth would be taken up, and the whole point of running a web site would slowly diminish.

    So, if a web site on a slow line links to another site for various downloads, then the slow site is in the wrong... why not ask the webmaster of the fast site if it's alright to do so in the first place ? If they say no then count your losses and link to the main site. Is that too much to ask ?
  • The Web is made of links. Then Can you consider web portals robots illigal ? How are these compagny expect to get some hist if they aren't linked from the outside ? I say lets start an petition saying we will "unlink" universals studios from every page that links it and lets see how they will react ? how much traffic will they loose ? that's the way to go , a bit mlike the blue ribbon speech campaign - such action need some support from nntities like the electronic frontier foundation - Anyway these kind of ruling will only affect the US - then all web maker content maker will have to leave the country and this is bad for most ISPs they should help in such case because if the ruling really is issued then noOne in the US will be able to link any site without the fear of being sued - isn't that aginst USA first Amemdment - When asked for a direction do you hust have to say its on your left (because being too precise would get you in trouble ...) damn money maker .... Thats exacly why I don't feel Capitalism being the way - Capitalism needs more goverment coontrol than what exists (even in countries where that control seems strong).
  • You are missing something:

    Not only do they want people to come and watch their ads, they want to get paid for it at the same time by having those people load their banner ads.

    -Snibor Eoj
  • Or you could detect IE5 and just transparently redirect them to Netscape's download page.

    I'd never use that site again! Isn't the point of a browser to be able to view HTML? Well, Netscape isn't HTML compatible.

  • If you rip out an article and give it to somone to read. After all, you're subverting their carefully laid out frontmatter, which consists of any number of really expensive ads which their advertisers have every right to expect you to read.
    Extrapolating, will periodicals in e-book form force you to scroll through pages of ad-crap before you get to read the articles?
    Perhaps there is something to be said for paper, after all.

  • With the banner ads, you get x cents for every load - so, if someone doesn't load the ad, the money isn't there.>/blockquote> Depends on the site and the advertizer. Some ads pay per "impression", some per clickthru.
  • In case you guys haven't heard of it yet: in a court ruling in a case of Scientology against a number of providers a judge ruled as follows (straight from a translation which can be found at DECLARES it to be the law that by having a link on their computer systems which when activated brings about a reproduction of the works that CST has the copyright to on the screen of the user, without the consent of the plaintiffs, the Service Providers are acting unlawfully if and insofar that they have been notified of this, and moreover the be reasonably doubted, and the Service Providers have then not proceeded to remove this link from their computer system at the earliest opportunity.

    Now this can be extrapolated to mean that *any* company or person that complains to a service provider about a link to works that company or person has copyrights for can force the service provider to remove the link under penalty of law... I'd personally love to see (say) Universal take on (say) Altavista like this...

    (Oh yeah... CST is Scientology... ;))

  • Why not just put a 5 second ad in the trailers?


  • I strongly disagree. In the examples you cite, there is no copying. Nothing is being reused, repackaged, or resold. A reference is not the same as a copy!

    Suppose you run a site that serves copyrighted material, where the users have to pay for access to the material. If you want to charge users for content, then that's where the charging should take place: when they access the content. When someone tries to retrieve a not-free file from your server, whether it was refered to by your site or elsewhere, you still should have a username/password on it, or check a cookie or something. Either way, they either agree to pay, or they don't get the file.

    If you're relying on your customers to retrieve some files before others, then you've missed the point of hypertext, and probably shouldn't be running a business that uses it (a pay web site).

  • Of a story i read a year or two back, where one of two major british newspapers was linking to stories on the other's website. This basically pissed everyone off at the "linked-too" newspaper, so they took the other one to court. I don'tknow how it turned out.
  • A similar case was fought in the UK a couple of years ago : the out-of-court settlement [] permitted the links, but required them to go to specific parts of the articles (headlines) and to indicate on the linking page who owned the real articles.
  • I turned its cookie filter off completely. I have a cookie monster that works with the browser, so I can control what cookies (if any) I accept.

    (So I didn't bother learning junkbuster's cookie jar configuration. But it looks on the face of it very useful)


  • by orichter ( 60340 ) on Wednesday July 28, 1999 @08:06AM (#1779033)
    The thing that really disturbs me about this is that it sort of defeats the whole point of the internet: To get information as quickly and easily as possible. If there is one thing I can't stand, it's getting a link which says, "See the new trailer of XYZ here", and then I have to jump through fifteen more hoops, or use another sites search engine to find the page. If I get routed to the front page, and the thing I am looking for is not there, I'm outta there. I'm not going to flip through five more pages of advertisements to get it. It's kind of like neighboring cities saying, "I don't want you linking to my city without first routing all traffic down Main Street so that they can drive by all our tourist attractions. I'm not going to look at all of the tourist attractions. I'm going to say, "I need to get the hell out of this town and never come back again."
  • Regarding the hypothetical ad-ripping machine and commercial-skipping VCR, the publishers and networks certainly _would_ care. When the assumption that every magazine read by a consumer also contains ads is nullified, circulation figures will become meaningless, and the advertisers will stop buying.

    If lots of people started blocking TV commercials, the Nielsen ratings most definitely _would_ take it into account.

    Similar situation here. They're not really worried about people taking their own content, they're worried about people taking it without the lucrative ads that go with it. And if the advertisers conclude that there's a lot of deep linking going on, they'll stop advertising.
  • I just don't get it. I can see why Universal might be upset about images used on the site, but links? You can't copyright a URL, only the information contained on that URL, far as I'm concerned. Where does this leave internet directories like Yahoo!? Could they be considered illegal as a result of this as well?

    All Universal is concerned about is its ad revenues, nothing more.
  • Isn't it possible to check the referring page or site and block access to a page if the referring page isn't an approved one?

    With this mechanism, if sites don't want outside referrals to their pages or content, it seems to me that they should take responsibility themselves to block access if it doesn't come from their own referring pages, and not run crying to an outside agency.

    I of course apologize in advance if I'm dead wrong on how this blocking mechanism works.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Check out "Stupid Stupid Movie Studio" []
  • Why dont we put a link on all of our webservers. If they want to be consistent they would have to sue us all. I think they just want to execute and example. Lets see if they have enough lawyers to find us all ;-)
  • And the web is a perfect example of this. If Universal doesn't want people to be able to look at their stuff without going through their website then they shouldn't put it out on the internet PERIOD.

    If they win this suit what next? Will they sue me if I tell (ala voice) someone the direct URL to an image on their site too? What's stoping me from instead of linking saing check out " der.gif"? It's not a "Link".. but if you type it into your URL window it will "skip" their main site.

    Please if you have a problem with how the web works.. then don't use it.

  • ...maybe things will get done.
    They have a feedback page for you to send them email about whatever you want (except creative movie ideas). If we go there and tell them that they can create a script or something to block or redirect unwanted links, then maybe we can avoid this legal battle. Instead of talking about it over here on /. why don't we tell them what we think?
  • Regardless of what big business may tell you, we have the right to link to anything [] we damn well please. They do not have the right to limit our freedom to link via unenforcable, implied content licensing agreements []. They, however, being the providers of the content at the destination of the link in question, have the right to block based on the HTTP_REFERER string or other means.

    It's time for the studios and media to wake up and realize that the public isn't their bitch [] anymore.

    By the way, Universal, do you plan on releasing anything resembling a good movie [] in the near future? Or do you intend on blowing all your dough on legal battles?

  • can't use the freeway (Interstate) because you don't drive on the backroads where there are many businesses starving for your attention.

    "Man könnte froh sein, wenn die Luft so rein wäre wie das Bier"
  • OK I think this is a misquote but its funny.

    "[Y]ou are not permitted to link to other sites that contain our copyrighted material without our authorization," the company wrote. "Accordingly, you must remove all images from our films as well as links to other sites that have our servers."

    Is it me or does this say that they (Movie-List people) must detroy their films. Sorry I know what they meant but this is really bad english. "remove all images from our films" - huh? As well as "links to other sites that have our servers" - what's that mean? I can't link to a site that owns their server? Doesn't a server own a site? Argggghhh my head hurts. Can't translate.
  • I invite any non-American who has Web storage space to go to the Universal site, collect as many internal URLs as they feel necessary, and post them on the Web. Let's see them prosecute this!
  • In a related lawsuit, 3M outdoor advertising services has won a multi-billion dollar settlement against map publisher Macmillian.

    3M lawyer Charles U. Farley had this to say, "This decision is a clear vindication of our rights. We were able to conclusively prove that the information on most direct routes these "maps" provided led to significantly reduced travel time, and therefore reduced viewings of our product, decreasing the value of our holdings."

    All roadmaps are to be recalled, and Congress has passed a federal law allowing the police to search cars that look as though they might be carrying maps, such as those with out-of-state plates, rental cars, and foreign-looking drivers. Possession of a map will be punishable by a $1000 fine and use of a map by up to 6 months in jail.

  • >But it's all a moot point anyway, because he's
    >advertising their damned movies. They should be
    >paying him. And if they're that concerned about
    >it, check the HTTP_REFERER!

    Companies are evidently afraid that somebody else is making a profit from adds while using the company's server to offer content.

    My idea is that the linker would have his adds to make money, he'd use a frame or something to display a frame-ready page from the company being linked to. The framed page would have it's own adds on it that generated revenue for the company. The company could check the referrer tags and such to award the linking entity for linking.

    If such nettiquete could be adhered to, then such things as lawsuits (with the associated common law precendents) and loss of internet autonomy could be avoided.

    Everybody wins!
  • Where are the rules of gentlemanly and gentlewomanly conduct that guide most of us? They should apply here, too. It feels wrong to link to images on another site. At least, it should.

    Why should linking to images from other web sites be wrong? If you don't want people to link to your stuff, don't put it on the Web.


  • Well technically bullets kill people..well unless you throw the gun at the guy and crack his skull ;)

    Sorry for being off topic here but if a tree falls in the forest and kills someone.. what actually killed that person..?

  • First off, where did this term "deep linking" come from? I wouldn't be surprised to find some lawyer somewhere coined the term. Links are just links; they're what make the World Wide Web work.

    Sure, most sites just use links as navigation controls ("Next Page", "Top", "Home", or even "click here"), but good sites also use them to direct a user to more information on a topic [] within the context of the page itself.

    Where I think the problem arises is not "how do I ensure that my valuable ad banners get seen?" (Jakob Neilsen wrote in 1997 that advertising doesn't work on the web [] and in another article about research on web users' behavior [] that while ad banners are the most-used form of advertising on the web, it is the least successful.) but "how do I protect my intellectual property on the Web?"

    In this case, I went to Movie-List [] to check it out, and it is a banner-driven (hence, I assume, ad-supported) site that is, essentially, a "link farm". He takes the trailers for movies and wraps his own HTML around them (complete with banner ad), and doesn't even acknowledge the movie studios the trailers are coming from. If I see a trailer from Universal's web site, I should have the option of hitting a link to their site to look around; Movie-List traps you there so you can look at his banner ads.

    I would think that this is a violation of fair use (which is going to have to be redefined somewhat, if it hasn't already, to handle the Web) made worse by the fact that he's not incurring any bandwidth penalty himself; he's using their servers to host the information he's supposedly getting ad money off of, the trailers. My gut feeling is that Universal is in the right on this one.

    Obviously, the concept of "fair use" on the Web is going to need to protect both the rights of the person who makes their intellectual property available on the web and the right of the person who wants to provide a link to it.

    I would think that a good "fair use" policy for the Web should have the following requirements:

    1) People should be allowed to point to copyrighted material on another site without obtaining explicit permission if they acknowledge the copyright holder of the material (either by providing the link in the context of their site, as my Alertbox [] examples do, or in the case of an image or movie, providing a link to the source of the copyrighted material). If search engines were to use the "copyright" LINK attribute (if properly set) on a page, I'd think that covers their backsides neatly.

    2) People should only be able to place a page from another site within their own frame if the owner of the content of that site gives their permission (as I did when I set up my home page at XOOM) or for educational or informative purposes (a site that teaches good/bad web design, or a live "portfolio" of a webmaster's work). In the latter case, the frame should not have any ads on it.

    3) A subscription-based site shouldn't include any copyrighted material from another source without that source's permission, period. Just live a print magazine.

    This is just off of the top of my head; what else should go into a decent "Fair Web Use" policy?

    Jay (=
  • I understand what you're saying and I agree with it in principle; I just don't know how it's going to pan out in practice.

    The sticking point is that the server being used to serve the content is in the cost center of the objecting party. The objecting party may have rights based on the fact that their machinery is being depreciated and are suffering the costs involved in bandwidth and administration.

    My proposal, which may need to be amended, is to find a way to avoid such litigation and to award the participants. Your idea of a password protected site would work for the purpose of security but... the whole reason for the litigation is that the serving company wants add revenue - it needs to be publicly available. Can't they come to some mutually beneficial agreement without litigation???

    I do agree, however, that it would be a seriously detrimental thing if the internet were to become bogged down in a complicated rights and priveleges quagmire. I'm certainly open to suggestions!
  • I was discussing this issue with a friend of mine not too long ago.

    One interesting argument is this: Consider a movie theatre owner. At the front door, he charges admission (or makes people watch advertisements, or whatever). However, his theatre has a side door that is always unlocked. The theatre owner does have the right to post signs telling people not to come in through the side door-- it may not prevent people from coming in, but he can at least prosecute those who do.

    This is all well and good for theatre owners.

    However, there is a major distinction between theatres and the Web, and the distinction is this: the Web is a public forum.

    When placing a work in a public forum, you are the one responsible for restricting access to that work. Plain and simple.

    I understand UP's position, but it's their responsibility to restrict access to the site, not the responsibility of everybody else on the web.

    Best wishes to MovieList-- stick with it, this is an important issue!
  • The classic counter example is that having sex is legal, selling something is legal. Prostitution is illegal.

    Just because the components are legal does not mean that the combination is legal. (Though I will grant that it probably should be legal)
  • Not only did I read it, but I was about to say the
    same thing...

    Anyone who makes browsers better watch out! Disable bookmarks or be sued for copyright infringement (or perhaps just "accessory to copyright infringement.")
  • I think that the biggest problem in this case appears to be that the trailers etc from the Universal site are being presented as content on the MovieList site.

    This is a little silly. Do you really believe that if someone downloaded a trailer via this link would believe that it was created by MovieList? I'd think that the huge "Universal" logo at the beginning of the trailer would be a tip-off that it was, in fact, created by Universal. Besides, trailers are esentially advertisements. Would an advertiser (in this case Universal) be upset if you were to show their ad for free (or at least provide another route to it)? I think not.
  • This has got to be the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard.

    Here's an analogy:

    Imagine that Wired magazine (for example) has a great article about Linux in its latest print issue, and I want readers of my web site to know about it. Obviously, I couldn't post a verbatim copy of the article on my site -- that would be copyright infringement. But I would be able to write, "There's a great article about Linux on page 50 of Wired." Should Wired be able to sue me because people wouldn't read the ads on pages 1-49? Of course not.
  • Let me be more clear; I was thinking of "free" in the sense of being available for public consumption, rather than the sense of not costing money. There is nothing about information that demands it not have a price, only that it can be attained (even if for a price).

    Let your information be free, but it's okay to make them pay for it.
  • What's the problem with preventing links to your server? A lot of sites stay up because of loading images as advertisements. If you link through to that, the content owners may not get the money. I bet if I linked to Slashdot without loading up any of the graphics, thereby causing Rob and pals to lose out on cash while still having to server the page, /. would have a hissy. And rightfully so. Second, a link can be very damaging to a server. I used to run a small ftp server which I used to let my friends get sounds and files from my University-networked machine. Someone on the outside with a lot more hits then I got decided to link to my sounds, and BOOM - saturation. I was plenty pissed. Finally, there's a real important point here - this is UNVIERSAL's content. If they don't want anyone linking to it, then no one should. Intellectual Property, people - if you want their product/service, do it their way or not at all.
  • Now I'm worried. I realize that this is a satire since I haven't seen such a report anywhere else. The thing that bothers me is that with all the things we've heard in the last month or two (i.e., Echelon, the Armed Services Committee bill, the ability of law enforcement to get info without a warrant, etc.), it doesn't sound the least bit far-fetched. I think the government has just raised the bar on satire. You're gonna hafta go a ways farther out on that limb to make it really sound like satire. Otherwise you're just gonna freak people out and have them checking all the other news sites for more info.

  • So they don't want people to skip their adds. That much I get, but why go through a legal battle to do it. They could just setup the server to block people coming from the movie-list site, or only allow people to view the trailers if they are coming from the universal site, or use a cgi setup to generate random URLs for each client. There are a million technical ways they could go about this, and I gaurantee that they are all cheaper than fighting it out in court. I guess it comes down to big companies not having a clue about technology. I also fail to understand the legal issue. Sure the trailers belong to them, but can they copyright the URL? I wouldn't think so, but who knows.
  • I can't even tell you how many times I have been denied access to a deep page because of the referring page. There is a simple technological solution that doesn't require litigation. However, as a company that relies on IP for it's income I can see how panic would quickly set in.
    My question is of course "Why would you want to keep people from seeing your trailer?" Do we have to pay (by ignoring banner ads) just to see your other advertisement?
    If you really want to limit acces, then REALLY limit access. Password protect the file, make a login necessary, require blood pacts, but don't post something on the Internet at large and then get pissed when people link to it. THAT'S WHAT THE MEDIUM IS!!!
    We (those that have a clue) must be vocal in protecting the rights and freedoms of Internet users everywhere, as well as the ideals of open information and, gaddamit, the ability to link wherever I damn well please. If we don't it won't be too long before sites like /. become illegal and every link you want to add to a page must be researched and requested. If you don't want me to link to your pages, it is YOUR responsibility to keep me from it.

    (/incoherent rant {work sux bad after vaca...I miss Cabo:(})

  • No, guns don't kill people. People with guns kill people.
  • by tgd ( 2822 ) on Wednesday July 28, 1999 @05:45AM (#1779065)
    Instead of suing them, its not that freakin' difficult to write an Apache module (and presumably a module under any other server) that checks the referrer and not serve the requested file if the referrer isn't on the local site.

    Keeps people from using your images and crap like that.

    The copyright infringement thing is just silly, but I can understand why they don't want people doing that. Its easy enough to fix technically...
  • Unfortunately, this is the kind of idiocy that is inevitable, due to the commercialization of the Internet. I'm all for free markets, but when you get the mega-corporations involved, you can say goodbye to free markets, fairness or cooperation.

    So, they will subvert the whole point of the world wide web, and we will eventually build something new for them to "discover."

    Sorry, I'm crabby today. If you don't want people to link to your stuff, DON'T PUT IT ON THE WEB!


  • I hold the Universal web designers responsible for this problem... Deep linking is the norm, and web sites should be designed to with deep linking in mind. That is what Wired is doing - any page you can link to has all the ad content. So if Universal wants to prevent direct links to the streaming content, and force users to view a page with their logo and ads first, then they should design things that way (no fixed server/URLs, must go the html page first, etc.).

    Of course, since the content itself is trailers (i.e. movie ads) this whole difficulty seems a little strange in the first place.

  • If they have a decent website all the way through then people will go back to the other pages on the site. Trying to funnel people through a roadway is like taking an 8 lane highway down to a single lane in the middle of rush hour. Yes it can be forced, no its not a good way to endear one self to others.
  • This sort of thing just blows my mind. As others have suggested, there are ways to protect content.
    Are they going after Movie List because it's a large site? I can think of a million websites I've been to with the most non-descriptive links in the world.

    Eventually someone's going to hit a Universal ad on their site, so what's the big deal? Don't they have enuf $ and hits already?

    Is this just silliness or plain greed?

    >I hope the judge is technically competent enough to see it as such and throws it out.

    Indeed! A guy (I should scan in this article) tried to sue the Cdn government claiming he was being discriminated against because he was a martian. The judge threw it out, saying the Constitution only applied to human beings, and if Mr. X believed he was a martian, then it didn't apply to him...god, it was so dumb!

  • I don't get what you mean by "...every page placed on the WWW should stand on its own..."

    If you mean that pages shouldn't be linked to, that wouldn't make sense. Could you clarify this?
  • Universal is one of the more reactionary intellectual-property corporations. They essentially declared war on MP3, opposing it at every turn, and banning all artists signed to them from releasing MP3s. (Since Universal (which also owns PolyGram) controls 35% of the music market, this is not without consequence.)

    Their demands for total control of content and legalistic sabre-rattling are completely in character.
  • Yeah, except he wasn't linking to pages he was linking directly to the clips themselves. This would be the same as if I decided that I really like CT's Bill Gates Borg .GIF file but I didn't want to/legally couldn't store it myself and so just linked to it.
  • This is what I think makes the whole issue a moot point. There should be no need to make this a court case when they had such simple means to prevent it. Otherwise things are just going to get so complicated deciding where it's acceptable and where it's not, can they point to a page if it has the ad, etc, etc.

    If you don't want the link, find a way to prevent it - it's not that hard. Stupidity doesn't make good law.
  • Second, a link can be very damaging to a server. I used to run a small ftp server which I used to let my friends get sounds and files from my University-networked machine.

    They have this wonderful new invention. It has a funny name, so try not to laugh. It's called "authentication".

    You set up an anonymous FTP server and got rolled for your goodies. Why do you find that surprising?

    Finally, there's a real important point here - this is UNIVERSAL's content. If they don't want anyone linking to it, then no one should. Intellectual Property, people - if you want their product/service, do it their way or not at all.

    I don't understand how Universal's IP rights are violated. They put those materials on the Web for public consumption, and the public is consuming them. If you want to funnel people through your advertising blitz, there are a wide variety of technical solutions to do just that.

    Supermarkets are carefully designed to put you face-to-face with hundreds of expensive luxury items (junk food, etc.) while collecting your necessities (milk, bread, etc.). If I give people a map that routes them around the junk food displays and sends them right to the staples, am I infringing on their right to influence how people walk around their store?

    Universal is just being lazy. They're losing hits because someone is doing a better job of indexing their content than they are.

  • Whether it's linked illegally or linked officially, the Sorenson clips which have become standard aren't going to get any more playable for UNIX users.
  • For a large commercial site I'm creating, we've decided to do a mix of secure and open content. Anything generic will be open to the public, including for outside linking. Anything we derive revenues from (online services, etc.) will be strictly accessible with a login or by local reference (else there would be no point in the site). Is there not one person at Universal who can figure this out?!
  • Interesting to see companies getting in on the act. In Germany, there was a court ruling about a year ago stating that it was forbidden to link to hate sites or sites containing illegal material under German law. Thus, if you are in Germany and link to a site containing, say, pictures of Nazi leaders (regardless of where that site is), you could be in trouble with the law in Germany (pro-Nazi material and political parties are strictly forbidden), even though you may think you bear no responsibility for what is on the other site.

    Unfortuntately, I can't remember exactly when or where that ruling was, but I certainly remember the impact it had on my mind: utter disbelief.

    ISTR that this ruling was linked to the prosecution of a CompuServe Germany exec for supposedly facilitating access to illegal pornography. Obviously, he had nothing to do with it, but he was held responsible anyway on behalf of CompuServer by a Bavarian court. Go figure.

    Ethelred []

  • If you do not allow deep linking the site will be unable to keep there users to even look at banner ads. If it takes more than 3 clicks to get to the information the end user wants, they have hit the back button the and left your site. In this case if the movie is not within the 3 click range, more that 50% of the users will not see it and not look at banner ads. Most big sites have a large click gap, so most people leave before they get to what they wanted. This is a problem because it is usualy the case that only after the end user has located what they were loking for, will they consider checking out banner ads.

    **(All of the previos is under the assumption that user is comming from one site to another that does not allow deep linking.)
  • I'm sure Universal could have spent a little bit of money on code and saved a lot of money on lawyers and come up with a technical solution -- as other people have suggested, it's not hard to check the URL of the referring page. If it's not in the domain or wherever, they can just redirect it to the top of the site -- I don't see where the problem is. It would remove the incentive for sites like movie-list to "pirate" the links in the first place.

    I have to wonder why they didn't take that route. Is their web team clueless? (Surely the first thing you do is call your webmaster and say "how can we stop this?") Do they just like lawyers? Or is this part of some bigger, submarine int-prop scheme -- what advantage are they going to take if this sets a precedent?

    Hey, does anyone know which, if any movie studios are behaving rationally on this issue?

  • For the record- I've actually read this far. (I'm at work) :)
  • To Whom It may Concern:

    Boy, are you in virtual hot water! Your position on deep-linking to parts of your web-site that bypasses your main page has made you the subject of debate (and anger) on the nerd site That can't be good for PR.

    Before you called out your lawyers, you should have talked to the people who run your web-site: what you wish to accomplish is quite possible and relatively easy, technically.

    The World Wide Web was designed to make deep--linking possible and painless. That said, there are circumstances, such as yours, where doing so can lead to misunderstanding and confusion regarding copyright ownership, and avoidance of banner ads. Understandibly, this is not in your best interest.

    Technically, it is possible for a web server to check the referring link to one of your pages, and if not another of your pages, to refuse to provide the requested data, or otherwise wrap it in an appropriate page (which might include a copyright notice, banner ad, etc.) Even if your web server can't be configured to do this, read-only CGI-BIN scripts can be used to accomplish the same effect.

    Hope this helps. Remember, if there is a need to restict access, there is likely a technical solution available, or easy to implement, without having to resort to what amounts to using a legal sledge-hammer to swat a fly.


    Rene S. Hollan
    [address omitted]
  • I think that, while not a copyright violation, linking directly to someone else's images is improper use of their material, and is indicative of laziness and plagiarism. Others have already pointed out the many technical defenses a site can employ to discourage others from linking to their images and other content elements.

    It's worth noting that while using some other guy's image is a quick and dirty way to make your web page look like it has more content, it also places your web page at the mercy of those whose content you've linked. You might link to somebody's nifty icon, but if he replaces it with pr0n, your pages are going to look pretty bad. Professional sites go out of their way to avoid this, often explicitly notifying the user when links leave their site.

    I know someone who posted an auction on eBay, complete with a picture they went to the trouble of scanning, cropping, etc. Someone else with a similar item to sell linked to his image, so we went back and added some text to the image -- nothing profane, just a note that it was an original scan intended only for use in a specific auction. The lazy bum who linked to it had no alternative but to either close his auction or put up with the modified image, although I doubt that he ever noticed. With CGI, we could have been much more creative.

    Bottom line: this will sort itself out without lawyers, if given a chance.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    1)In the virtual host section (or general section) of your site add the following line:

    SetEnvIf Referer yourdomain\.com internallink

    2)In the .htaccess file of the directory you want to protect put the following:

    order deny,allow
    deny from all
    allow from env=internallink

    3) When somebody clicks on a link to a fiel within that directory the will get a 403. This will also prevent people from being able to type in the URL or use it as a "Favorite". So if you were using this for images you'd probably want to keep your images in it's own subdirectory so they are protected, but the HTML file which uses them isn't.

    Did that make sense?

    If anybody else has done something similar I wouldn't mind hearing from them
  • :-) Not to miss the point here, but Universal wouldn't have had me see the advertisement either way. I'm using this cutting edge piece of technology thing called a proxy! Yes, you, too can have the fun of not looking at advertisements. It also doubles as a fun way of letting all my LAN machines load webpages quickly. [] for the plain-jane ver, [] for the blank-image patched ver + central blocklist :-)
  • I'm all for free linking but the way this movie-list is linking is IMHO not only in very bad taste it does infringe on IP rights. If he were just linking to the page which Universal had the trailers posted on I would stand up and fight for him just as loudly and proudly as anyone.

    But, he dosen't link to any pages on Universal's site. Only to the .MOV files themselves. Which is just as bad as if someone linked to one of my copyrighted photographs to display as their own on their website.

    All URL's are not created equally. Admittedly a movie trailer is a bit different than a photograph. It's not like he's modifying the trailers to remove Universals name and copyright info. I say if the work of art is clearly identified within itself as being copyrighted and is available on the net through a simple URL then you don't have a leg to stand on legally. It may be in horribly bad taste and exceptionally poor nettiquit but should not be illegal. If that work of art though does not or can not carry it's copyright information within itself then linking to it without giving credit is not only bad taste and all that but should also be illegal.

    And as many have said before. If Universal wanted to keep links out they could. The law should not be used to protect the lazy from their own ignorance.
  • You can also set up your domain to be a handler
    (check out Doug McEachern & Lincoln Steins _Writing Apache Modules With Perl & C_ for detailed instructions) such that the actual link itself is just a query to a program. They could then do a scheme a-la pathfinder where the URLS are garbled unless you surf through all the advertising crap.

    I'm all for that method. If you gotta have the crap to support the content, by all means post the crap :)

  • So am I violating copyright by buying a magazine,
    blacking out all the ads, and leaving it in a public place?

    After all, I have bypassed all those potential click-through ads (for other readers of the magazine), no?

    This is silly. Universal is stupid.

    Universal sells movies. The more people are exposed to their movies, the more the company makes money.

    It's too bad their web group probably needs the clickthrough/popup ads to get income to justify their expenses on web stuff (servers). Maybe if they were smarter about it, like clickthrough ads for quick interest surveys, intelligent links to for current movies, etc., and it just wouldn't be a big deal for them, either.

    But no.
  • Proof once again that the old school business world has a lot to learn about the Internet.

    or, unfortunetly Proof that the internet, at least what were used to may cease to exsist once big buessness has there way. If this case sucseeds, the effect would be detimental to the intnernet.

    the internet is about sharing ideas, and the old ways of information distrobution really don't apply anymore unfortunetly these big busness don't want to hurt there revinue stream, and since they never really wanted the 'Net in the first place, are willing to bring it to its knees. (and of cource, since there the ones giving money to congres....)
    "Subtle mind control? Why do all these HTML buttons say 'Submit' ?"
  • Okay, real easy solution... if the document referrer isn't from one of their sites, they simply redirect to the home page, or whatever. It'd take like 5 minutes to configure the average web server to do this. And if you really wanted to get fancy you could make the site 100% CGI-driven and just make a page right on the spot with all the advertising you want!

    Such a solution requires no lawsuits, and for the very minimal solution, just a few minutes of time from the guy who runs the server.

    Sheesh. Maybe I should ask Universal for a job as Webmaster. The one they have now obviously can't do anything that requires changing config files or writing if-then statements. He's probably got every M$ certification in the book, too.

  • And actually, copyright law does allow "fair use," a category that I think most deep linking falls into. One thing that is interesting to me is that most banner ads don't tell you exactly what they are for. This is because of the clickthrough model of web advertising. Advertisers do not take into account the more intangible effects of someone seeing a banner as s/he scrolls down a page, so they don't build banners in a way that lets the viewer know what the ad is for at first glance.

    Overall, I think Universal misses the point. They should not expect a non-porn, non-financial, non-ecommerce site to make money or even break even. They should instead create a site that has good content that makes people want to watch their movies and tv shows and buy their music, blah blah blah.

  • >I don't understand what you mean, if the data is on Universal's server, what are Universal claiming has been copied? The URL?

    Not even that, really.

    The link to the content (i.e. movie trailer) is put on Movie-List's site in such a way as to make it appear that the trailer is stored on Movie-List's site. Universal's pissed because nobody looks at their banner ads anymore.

    I say if Universal can't make people want to come to their page, screw em. Either fix your server or shut the fuck up.

  • The iCab [] browser for the Mac has built in image filtering which can be set up to kill most banner ads if you want it to.
  • I would have to say that if he stole your content with a perl script to embed it into his page, that it would be a geniune violation of copyright laws. Other then that, it is perfectly reasonable to make sure that your page is at the top, if only to ensure that your frames don't get broken (if you use 'em). This guy shouldn't complain. As for keeping it out of court, thats what you can expect big business to do, hopefully they won't change the way the rest of us work on the internet.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Well if deep linking is made illegal, we can
    say good bye to search engines and bookmark files.

    If a company really wants to serve content only in context, they can use the refering page information submitted by the client. If a request is referred from outside their site, they can:

    1) refuse it
    2) bounce you to the main page
    3) give you a version of the page you want, only reformated with lots of stuff (perahaps a frame) to get you to look at the rest of their site when done.

    Obviously #3 is the best solution for all concerned, but not everyone will make the effort.

    On banner adds - I fear we may eventually see servers which refuse to serve content until they are sure the adds have been received. Of course you wouldn't have to display them, but you would have to waste bandwith taking them.
  • For those of you who say that Universal is just concerned about revenue from its ad banners, one trip to their site would show you that there are ABSOLUTELY NO AD BANNERS ON THEIR SITE. I don't really know what their problem is with people linking directly to the trailer files, but I don't think they'd have a problem if you just linked to the movie's web site, then people can just use the links there to get the trailers. (Just as a sidenote, I think Universal's sites for its movies are way better than the other studios).
  • If the Internet Porn industry can figure out a way to make it extremely difficult to figure out urls into their sites and force you to see advertising, why can't everyone else? Of course, this won't stop everyone from figuring out the urls, but for most people it will. Many adult sites implement file name changing and dynamic page reconstruction in order to get around the sole problem of people linking into their sites -- you have to see the ads and have to go through the root of the site.
    And the adult sites have to be doing this programaticly -- it's too much maintaince to do it by hand.

    Check referer URLs, use cookies, change your 404 page to redirect to the root of the site -- it's not like these are new ideas. Admittedly, this is kind of underhanded (which explains why the adult sites have done it) but that doesn't mean it's not good to do, and worth it. Especially if your sole reason is to get people to see ads.
  • Advanced capital accumalation is dire need of a change of models. To a large part promiscuous information begins to errode the old model of monoploy=profit. It is natural that entertainment companies who have an existing investement in information technologies (rooted in the 19th century) should begin to explore legal and otehr remedies for stabilization. The question remains' if the current evolution of information is devolving control to smaller, more relativly atonomous units, will it be able to stabilize itself into an order?
  • There is nothing wrong with preventing links to your server. Make it impossible for someone to deep link to you. That's a perfectly fine solution.

    But to do it the way that they are trying is to basically say that it is against the law to focus in on a piece of information and present it without the accompanying advertisements.

    What does that mean? Well it means you can't clip an article out of the newspaper. It means you can't photocopy something out of a magazine. It means that you can't even reference it in a term paper specifically by page numbers. You would have to just say that you got the information from Time magazine issue #105, go find it yourself. It would mean that you couldn't walk up to a friend and say, "I read this great article that said..."

    Deep linking has been around since the dawn of time. Think beyond the web and look at everyday occurrences and you'll find it happening all over the place.

    The real source of the problem is that ad agencies have developed a new model for advertising. Before they paid for the ad to run in a magazine that went to 10,000 people. They couldn't tell how many of the 10,000 read the ad. But with the web, they pay by each viewing because they can track on that. And that's the problem.

    Deep linking bypasses the new model that ad agencies have developed and site admins don't like getting hit in the pocket book.
  • My favorite link is the following:
    It's my favorite I hope I won't get sued by Software compagnies for posting this URL -
    If you don't understand the joke, do a nslookup on the given URL ......
  • Ok, it seems to me that many people are missing the point of the Web and HTML. I wasn't on the net in the 'real old days' [I've been on since about '95] but I seem to recall the web and HTML having been developed in order to make information retrieval more efficient. The links were ways to quickly get the information you wanted without having to go through the hassle of reading half the information in the world just to get to it. Now these big companies/corporations come into the picture, and they are changing the very essence of the web by trying to make people click through pages of banner ads to get the info they want. The web is changing very quickly, and as a result we are losing sight of why the web developed in the first place.

    Now I have no problem with companies and businesses having a presence on the net [I'm not so old fashioned that I'm totally against commercial traffic] but I do think that it can become too commercial [as it seems to be doing]. The companies need to realize that the web was not put up to help their profits, but to encourage the dissemination of information. I hope there are some web designers reading this, and I hope they can keep this in mind when designing sites. We need to make sure that the primary goal of a website is information, whether it be information on a geek and his/her cat, or information about a company and it's products. If the information is clear and easy to get to, the hits/sales will come, otherwise we will start ignoring you.


    The information doesn't "want" to be free. "I" want the information to be free...

  • March 32, 2002

    Washington DC - After more than two years in and out of the courts, The Supreme Court today upheld the lower courts' ruling that the viewing of a website in any other layout and format other than the one set-up by that site's authors.

    The original suit was brought by a cartel of web business all over the country, initially sponsored by by the Direct Marketers Association (DMA). The defendants were Junkbusters Inc and thirty-four other businesses and individuals who had created software to let users by-pass blinking pictures, pop-ups advertisements, and intended controls on font, color, size, and backgrounds.

    This means that the lower courts' previous award of seventeen billion dollars is due immediately. Upon hearing the ruling, Junkbusters immediately filed for bankruptcy, but it is widely believed that their the software authors and corporate directors will be personally liable. Furthermore, the text-based web browser, Lynx, is now illegal to use except on your own sites, as are any proxies that filter or rewrite incoming webpages in any way, including the suppression of blinking text. Both Microsoft and AOL Microsystems must immediately issue mandatory patches to their browser to disable the users from being able to disable automatic loading of images or moving GIFs.

    A joint statement issued by the not-for-profit American Association for the Blind and the International Epileptics Support Center decried the decision as essentially barring their members from the web. The DMA praised the decision, stating that ``the needs of Commercial Enterprise would no longer be stymied by Communists and other PBS and NPR sympathizers.''

    President Gore also weighed in with his pleasure at the decision, adding, ``This just blasted away the roadblocks in my Information Superhighway. Next term, we're going to the stars!'' This appeared to be an oblique reference to his constituents' efforts to gather re-election funds through click-through advertising fees. The president was in closed conference this afternoon with top members of Congress and with his InfoBahn Czar about how soon they could implement a new mandatory A-chip to be placed in televisions and VCRs so TV and video advertisements could no longer be avoided by consumers through editing, muting, fast-forwarding, or channel-surfing.

    A hacker squad known only as the Spamvert Amnesty League (SAL) briefly seized control of the Whitehouse website, where they replaced the campaign advertisements with malicious notices of revenge against all spamvert supporters everywhere. At the same time, a digitized parody video of Clockwork Orange appeared on the Fox channel's satellite download in which consumers were held prisoner as commercial advertising was blasted into their propped-open eyes and ears. Credits on the video listed the SAL, and their choice of the European anthem, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, has led authorities to look in Europe for their homebase, since as we all know, uncounted intellectuals, artists, anti-commercial socialist sympathizers, and other commie rats have long taken refuge there from the righteous wrath of invasive American Plutocracy.

    ``Contempt, rather than celebration, is the proper response to advertising and the system that makes it possible.''
  • by pspeed ( 12169 ) on Wednesday July 28, 1999 @06:31AM (#1779138)
    What the typical slashdot-I-didn't-read-it-but-I-have-a-comment crowd doesn't seem to understand is that this isn't HTML pages that this guy is linking to. He is linking directly to the Quicktime files. On top of that he makes no mention as to where the files are actually coming from.

    This is an extremely sleazy thing to do in my opinion. I wonder how he would like it if slashdot linked directly to his image whenever it posted a movie story. I think this guy would get really pissed at the amount of traffic this would generate on his server. Bandwidth usage = $$.

    Now, that being said, Universal did not handle this correctly. Calling in the lawyers will not fix their problem since I could easily post the same links to newsgroups, etc.. They really need to look for a technology solution. Heck, I can think of at least twenty pr0n sites that would be able to give them a clue.

    In any case, both sides screwed up. If we end up having some clueless legal precedent set by this then BOTH parties should be blamed.

    I'm inclined to blame movie-list more on this one. Universal has already talked to them once before and from their point of view this new stuff could look pretty spiteful. I still don't think they should have called in the lawyers but I understand why they did.

  • by MoNickels ( 1700 ) on Wednesday July 28, 1999 @06:32AM (#1779139) Homepage
    There's something inherently slimy about linking directly to content rather than to the original page that contains it.

    It's intellectually dishonest, in fact. It's not the stubbornness of old media saying this, it's everybody but the pants-less newcomers in love with the idea of content free for the taking. Even if it's not truly free. Merely linking to pages is perfectly acceptable: that's what the web is about. By linking to pages, not content, you provide the originating site with due respect, earned revenue and earned visits, publicity and promotion, increased identity and branding. You provide your visitors with the full experience and an opportunity to view an item in context. Withholding context is like hit singles: what is the rest of the album for? Why did the creator spend all the time and effort and money? Shouldn't the opportunity for immersion be offered?

    When I see what I consider stolen links, there's always a sense of unease, discomfort, and dislike. Part of it is that these sites keep poor company: the worst offenders are porn sites, warez sites and the banner-laden pages of wimps with puny get-rich-via-banner schemes in their heads. But it's also because it's unfair, unreasonable, arrogant; it's the maneuver of the stupid and the cowardly, the uncreative, the lazy, those lacking in judgment and intelligence, the pimples on the ass of humanity.

    If you wish to include an excellent trailer or movie or gif, provide your users to the link of the page of the owners of that content: your site gets credit for the referrer URL, your site becomes and avenue for path-making to other sites and your site still is given credit for the new information by your visitors.

    Where are the rules of gentlemanly and gentlewomanly conduct that guide most of us? They should apply here, too. It feels wrong to link to images on another site. At least, it should.
  • The LINKING page could give explicit license to link to the page as long as certain criteria are met - any violation of the criteria voids the license immediately and may cause litigation.

    But the basic problem is, I need absolutely no license to link to anything on anybody's site. The only possible exception is if I electronically "sign" an agreement (like you do with the NY Times site). If I don't have to do that, I can refer to the data however I care to.

    The mundane equivalent to deep linking is referring or footnoting. If somebody publishes a book, and I access it (buy a copy and read it), I have the right to give referential or navigational data to anybody I care to. I can tell you that the good stuff is in figure 38 or page 182. I simply can't give you figure 38 or page 182, but I can tell you where to get it. This interferes with no copyright law, since I am copying nothing.

    Per the above book-based example, ownership of content does not imply ownership of its locational metadata. That is all a URL is; locational metadata.

    The fact that the end user sees it as a copy of the information is an illusion. The reference (URL) gets interperted by the browser, and the data is retrieved. This is only possible because the data is publicly accessable (not public domain).

    This is like me referring to a publicly accessible book (say, one that is in libraries). The difference is that the browser will actually search the stacks and retrieve the book for you--all under the covers.

    A LINKING document might be usable for politeness, stating the terms that one should link up. However, such a document should not carry the force of law. The legal precedents all flow the other way.

  • Okay, just for the moment, let's say that the Old School, typewriter-using, book-reading, litigious, proprietary, work-20-years-at-the-same-company people are right and that it's wrong to link to content on another site.

    First off, I need a definition of what is a "deep link" vs. a shallow link, but I digress.

    So... all the benefits of the web and hyperlinking get categorically thrown out the door beucase linking directly to content "steals" the right of the website to throw garbage in your face.

    Well, what about search engines, then? They're nothing but "deep links". They steal *everyone's* content and make money by forcing ads to be displayed while they hawk other people's stuff.

    (so, by not having a robots.txt file, do you grant consent to have your content snatched up?)

    I think that we're approaching a time when the old-school and new-school will have to come to some concessions about the way the world works. How do you enforce one country's law on international users and content that may originate from any country or no country?

    And.... if search engines are guilty, then I'm 100% certain that ALL portals except for opensource-content ones are violating the same rules.

    I'm sure things will get worse before they get better. Technology is much more advanced than the laws that govern it. Just look at how complex US law is, and then look at how little of that law relates to regulating modern technology.

    Fear the US Lawyers who have free cycles to "port" all their progress-stifiling regulations to high-tech!

    Don't get me wrong, I'm all for justice and rule of law, but when law gets so complex and obfuscated that nobody understands it and it takes months to interpret it, something's gone awary.

  • Wow 182 post, I'd be suprise if anyone actually reads this.

    Anyway, I just skimmed the comments and I didn't see anyone mention this (if you did, I'm sorry for being redundant). But is it a copyright infringement if I make a deep link with a book mark. I mean I'll just go directly to the location. Or is it just a problem if I make my bookmarks available publically.

    Anyway I believe that ANYTHING that is published on the net is worthy of being pointed to by a link. If you don't want something linked to, then have users create accounts (free like NYT). Or have some sort of CGI script to point to the information that dynamically changes.

    So much for writing this since I don't think I'll have a soul to read it :(
  • I think that the biggest problem in this case appears to be that the trailers etc from the Universal site are being presented as content on the MovieList site. There was almost a groundbreaking case regarding this in the UK, where two newspapers in the Shetland Isles were duking it out over the fact that one paper's website was using links to the other's pages within it's own frameset, making it look like their own content. The papers settled out of court eventually, so there is still no precedent.

    Careful linking (such as us practised by /. who link out from their pages to other people's pages) is unlikely to land anyone in trouble.

    What really burns me about all this is that at the end of the day, both parties could settle this reasonably - there must be a middle ground that could be taken to allow links to the content, while still presenting Universal's advertising content. Alternatively, a financial arrangement could be reached.

    Personally, I always advise my clients to link to a new window if they wish to provide deep-links on their pages, or alternatively, to make an arrangement with the owner of the pages.

  • As long as big business is run by old men, there will be NO understanding of the internet. Bsides, all they're after is money. That's what companies do. Make money.

    Ain't it grand?

    You make "making money" sound like a bad thing. Frankly, it is a laudable goal.

    Like everything else, there is a right way and a wrong way to make money. The right way (per capitalism) is to increase your wealth by increaing your customers' wealth. Take a car company for example. They increase their wealth by selling me a car. I increase my wealth by buying it; I lose money, but I gain the wealth of the ability to go 40 miles without breaking a sweat. The companies that can make their customers the wealthiest (the most prestigious car, the cheapest car, the most maintenence-free car), tend to come out on top. This is what capitalism is all about.

    The wrong way is to get money from somebody else without giving him anything back. Extortionists and muggers do this. You can argue that peddlers in addictive drugs (or addictive operating systems) do the same.

    BTW, not understanding the Internet is not about making money. Not understanding the Internet is just about incompetence. If you take two similar companies, and only one understands the Internet, it has a competitive edge. Ignorance in a capitalism is self-correcting; the ignorant tend to either get illuminized or replaced. The fact that it hasn't happened yet simply means that Titanics don't turn on dimes. Inertia only takes you so far.

  • I disagree. I think that if they don't want people looking they should take advantage of the technical means of preventing linking. There is no need to get the courts involved. And if the court rules in favor of Universal it would pretty much trash the web. would be illegal, they copy slashdot's stories w/o the ad images. slashdot could also be the same way, look at some of the slashboxes. Basically if Universal doesn't want people linking to them they shouldn't put the content on the internet in the first place.
  • I thought Universal would have loved everyone to link to their movie trailers. I mean, am I missing something here or are trailers NOT grand billboard-advertisments for their product?


  • by ninjaz ( 1202 ) on Wednesday July 28, 1999 @05:52AM (#1779203)
    The problem is, this is the *web*

    You should not have to consult a lawyer or get permission in writing before making a link.

    If Universal is that concerned about people getting to the content without going through the main page, they should have their web server check the HTTP_REFERER variable and deny requests that are from non-approved sites.

    Just think. If Universal's webserver admins were a bit more competent, we'd have yet another "Interesting Legal Question" going unaddressed.

  • You could always detect that case too, and let them through. Media Player probably passes a different user agent string to the server.

    Or you could detect IE5 and just transparently redirect them to Netscape's download page. :)

  • by root ( 1428 ) on Wednesday July 28, 1999 @06:53AM (#1779225) Homepage
    This is all quite silly. I can go to a library and do an infotrac search (equiv of web search). It returns a list of articles matching my search criteria. I then go to the newspaper archives, go to spool 9/1994, and zip to page 5A, column 3, paragraph 4 (equiv of deep link) and read my article. I do not see the advertising there either. How is this different from what web search engines do?
  • I have one that seems to not block most ads, but does nuke the ones on slashdot. (Which is good most of the time, because that silly is what keeps slashdot from working half the time)

    I have a proxy that runs on the fast side of my frame line and gzips everything before sending it to my browser, makes my 56k work like a T1... Somehow it breaks the ad stuff on here though.

    I've seen commercial programs that specifically block domains that ads are served from, though.

    Wouldn't be hard to write one.
  • For one thing, it's a free speech issue. If I can't link directly to another site, can I post the url in plain text and let people paste it into their location boxes ? If I can't do that, can I send a url to my buddy with the url in it as a link ? as plain text ? Can I publish a book with the url in it ?

    The fact is that the trailers are publically accessible resources for which the poor defendant is simply publishing the location. If Universal doesn't want the resource to be publically available, they should make it so (as other posts have indicated), rather than throwing it up there for anyone to look at and then trying to legally prevent people from speaking about where it is and how to get to it.

  • Sites typically WANT the hits so, why not post a LINKING page that is akin to the COPYING document used for the GPL?

    The LINKING page could give explicit license to link to the page as long as certain criteria are met - any violation of the criteria voids the license immediately and may cause litigation.

    The first site linking to the second site could get monetary compensation for LINKING under license in order to provide incentive to link; the threat of being sued would be the disincentive to link improperly.

    One of the criteria might be that contact with and permission from the administrator of the site being linked to is imperative.
  • It's ironic how people are advocating server-based solutions to deep linking, yet complain when AOL imposes limitations on MS's use of it's IM servers. How come there are no complaints about the way Ask Jeeves puts its frames around content that it links to?

    Hey providers, you make content and services available. You have the right and technical ability to determine who uses your servers and for what purpose. Using lawyers is the wrong way to resolve technical problems.

    That said, I think that it is unethical to repackage someone else's content within your frames without explicit permission.
  • by 0xdeadbeef ( 28836 ) on Wednesday July 28, 1999 @07:56AM (#1779262) Homepage Journal
    I forgot who said that originally (Barlow?), but it's something that needs repeating in cases like this.

    HTTP and HTML were not designed to force people to view advertisements, they were designed to share and link information. If you don't like the limitations of a technology, don't use the technology.

    The culture of the net says that the right to link is implicit. If you don't like the customs of a people, don't enter their territory.

    Now, it is a bit dishonest to deep link into someone else's site without attribution, but it can't be illegal. For the courts to allow ownership of the address of a copyrighted work would make most periodical indexes, card catalogues, bibliographies, and footnotes illegal.
  • Universal published their content on the web with no access restrictions. If people go to that content and download it, I don't see a problem as long as the referring site didn't misrepresent the actual source of the content. A previous article on /. discussed displaying someone else's site in your frame with your advertisements. This wouldn't be OK, because in a way that misrepresents the source of the content. But if the Movie-List says "Go get movie trailers from Universal", then no one is deceived and I don't see how Universal can complain. Apparently in this case Movie-List didn't list the source of the content, so their case isn't as strong. But if the source is attributed, I don't see a problem.

    As another poster mentioned, there's no reason that Universal can't set up a technical solution - generate random URLs for each visitor, only serve the content to browsers referred from one of their sites, etc. But if they make content freely available on the 'net with no access restrictions, I don't see how they can complain if people download it. What if I just typed in a random URL and happened to hit one of their trailers without going through their site?

  • by weave ( 48069 ) on Wednesday July 28, 1999 @05:57AM (#1779265) Journal
    You won't believe this, but I am being harrassed about the opposite. I have javascript code at the top of my site pages to keep them from being stuck in someone else's frame.

    So this idiot writes a threatening e-mail to me because his site wants to refer people to my site (bus schedules) and keep a frame up top with their advertisements in it. Their reasoning is that they are driving traffic to my site, so they have a right to show advertisements around it. They are upset that I won't allow that.

    Clueless idiots. Of course, if he had any brains, he could write a LWP perl script to just grab my content and embed it into his pages.

    So the same with Universal. Plenty of technical solutions to prevent your pages from being pirated, as well as to pirate other pages.

    But no, let's fight this out in court... :(

  • This reminds me of a ruling in Norway. The case was brought by a University against someone telnetting to their sendmail daemon and doing some other investigation (as part of a TV show) and it turned out the University was running known-security hazardous versions. The Norwegian courts said: If you don't want anyone to visit, *don't* open your ports.

    Hopefully we can have similar results in the "Land of the Free". :)
  • by Brian Knotts ( 855 ) <> on Wednesday July 28, 1999 @05:58AM (#1779269)
    Trouble is, he wasn't asked; he was threatened.

    Big companies don't know how to cooperate; they could have asked him nicely to link to the main page, or perhaps compromised, and had him link to some internal index page. When you get letters from lawyers, though, some people are naturally going to get their back up, and be *less* cooperative. But I imagine that these large companies don't know how to do anything without using lawyers.

    Yes, it would be nice if people could just cooperate. That was, after all, the model the web was designed with. Unfortunately, many people don't seem to know how or want to do that.


"How many teamsters does it take to screw in a light bulb?" "FIFTEEN!! YOU GOT A PROBLEM WITH THAT?"