Anna Gentzschein, Internet Links - Legal implications
(IRI-rapport 1997:4, Stockholm 1997)
There are a lot of legal problems concerning the use of links on the Internet. For example, can a hit-list of relevant links from a search engine be protected as a database? Is it possible to accept a contract by clicking on a link? Can you be responsible for missing a link, and the information contained therein? What if the link is including a password and gives free access to Web sites that normally has to be paid for? Is using a link to another Web site a copyright infringement, etc.? It is impossible to discuss all the relevant questions. Instead, this thesis is examining legal issues around different techniques of linking between Web sites on the Internet. The relevant techniques of linking are hyperlinking, framing and inline linking, and the overall question is if permission is needed to link to another Web site. The legal issues are being analysed in the light of some recent cases, i.e. the Shetland Times case, the Total News case and the Dilbert case. Different legal issues arise around these linking techniques, but it is mainly about intellectual property law and unfair competition law. Some of the questions being analysed are, does the mere link include any copying of the linked to Web site? Is putting up a link the same as making a Web site available for the public? Can the use of a mere link constitute an act of unfair competition? Is there something as an implied license to use links on the Internet? Does it constitute any act of copying to highlight a link with different objects, e.g. a copyrighted work or a trademark? Can a list of links on a Web site be protected as a database? Does the use of frames create a new derivative work? Is there any special trademark infringement in the use of frames? Is an inlined image ever being copied, etc.? Some of the questions being put forward are intended for a future discussion, e.g. is there a need for a new exclusive transmission right? The thesis ends with a chapter about technical and other solutions to avoid infringements, to show that the law is not always the best solution to the problems.
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