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Content, Writing and Copyright Forum

Copyright breach?
link only

 12:57 pm on Feb 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

I have a link on my site to a well known and extremely large UK charity.
The charities name and nothing else is the link anchor text, there is no description.
I've received a very strong letter threatening legal action if I do not remove the link immediately.
Am I in breach?



 2:24 pm on Feb 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

Are you using their logo? If so, it's probably not a copyright infringement so much as it is an unauthorized use of a trademark, so, yes, you need to take it down and use something else to make your link. Are you using text that's similar enough to their logo, or to anything else they identify themselves with, that they might think people could confuse you with them? If yes, you might be able to argue the point in court, but IMVHO you'd be better off changing the appearance of the link. If the answers to both of those is "no," then I don't see a problem with the link itself. (But I'm not British or a lawyer.)

As per other discussions about legal issues lately, be sure that your link clearly lets people know that they'll be sent to that site if they click on it. And be sure you're not linking into a section of the site that is only open to, say, people who've already made a contribution to the charity.

[Edited to clarify a couple of sentences.]

[edited by: Beagle at 2:35 pm (utc) on Feb. 26, 2007]


 2:32 pm on Feb 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

Background questions:
Are you profiting from this link in any way?
Is there any sensible reason that they wouldn't want you to link to them?

Perhaps you should send a letter in reply informing them that if they continue to harass you then you will be writing to the papers about the way in which they are spending the charitable funds entrusted to them, and how they seek to alienate those who link to their website out of the kindness of their heart.

After all - I doubt those who have been donating from their hard-won incomes would agree that legal fees and administrative time spent on this were in any way acceptable. I'm sure those responsible know that as well!


 2:33 pm on Feb 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

I don't know the laws in the UK but I was recently threatened by a company for linking to their site.

I didn't slander them in any way so it was completely protected under free speech. They did the same saber rattling over copyright issues, etc.

I removed the link simply because it helped them with the link and I didn't feel like dealing with people who would write such hostile letters with no good reason. I could've by all right left it though.


 2:52 pm on Feb 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

I removed the link simply because it helped them with the link and I didn't feel like dealing with people who would write such hostile letters with no good reason.

So, in that case... the letter worked and they will probably do it again :(

I reckon someone should start a site which links freely to any site which has been sending out such letters :-)


 3:32 pm on Feb 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

Out-Law article on linking [out-law.com]


 4:10 pm on Feb 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

I'd love to see a similar article on netiquette for the Internet in general.

So unless the original site is something offensive, why threaten legal action? A link is "loving", right?

Also, Are they objecting to the link itself, or do they dislike the format?


 5:08 pm on Feb 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

The link simply says "link to xyz charity' on one page and 'xyz charity' on another page. Just text, no description, no logo.
Fact is that I outrank them for lots of other useful terms and come in second for searches on 'xyz charity' (its not a very competitive term as they are known as xyz but most people actually search on 'xyz charity'). I like coming in second as lots of people who find their site interesting click on mine and use my services which benefits me financially.
There are scores of thousands of other websites that link to them.
They allege a likelihood of confusion or association merely by the inclusion of a link containing their registered trade mark.

[edited by: JudgeJeffries at 5:10 pm (utc) on Feb. 26, 2007]


 5:16 pm on Feb 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

>>I reckon someone should start a site which links freely to any site which has been sending out such letters :-)

Don't Link To Us [dontlink.com]

Don't Link to Us! links to sites that attempt to impose substantial restrictions on other sites that link to them.


 5:22 pm on Feb 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

You could always link to a google search for their domain name. If you fancy playing with fire ;)


 6:06 pm on Feb 26, 2007 (gmt 0)


It sounds like your situation is really similar to mine. You can talk about a company using their name as long as you're not slandering them.

Companies have this approach where they'll have their lawyer try to scare you first. If that fails then they'll hound you until they get what they want.

In my case I could've posted the letter from their lawyer and been a further pain to them. I decided to just let it go because I didn't want to deal with them at all.


 11:10 pm on Feb 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

Maybe I was using the term "logo" too loosely in my previous post, but I don't understand how these two things can go together:

...no logo.

...by the inclusion of a link containing their registered trade mark.

You don't have the right to use their trademark in your link (unless you mean you're putting the little behind their name, but their name is written in plain text). My bet is that their complaint isn't about the linking itself, but about the use of the trademark.

If you're using their trademark rather than their name in regular text, it could certainly be confusing to some people, especially if one of the links just says "xyz charity" without a "link to" or "go to".


 1:44 am on Feb 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

Logo to me means some kind of fancy design.
I used their name in plain text and that name is their trademark.
They have trademarked it within limited categories and we dont even compete within their stated categories. They have no interest whatsoever in my kind of business but I presume they were concerned that their name on my page gave some kind of endorsement although there was no deception whatsoever.
From the context of the website it was very obviously a link and indeed immediately before the link there was text which said 'link to'.


 5:54 pm on Mar 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

To play the devil's advocate here:

One possible reason for companies to attempt to make rules about linking is so that they can avoid being linked to in link farms and other such seedy, spammy sites without their knowledge.

I'm definitely not saying that you're site is an example of a spammy site. I don't know anything about that, and believe that they are most likely barking up the wrong tree with their complaints about this particular example.


Put yourself in the shoes of a company that finds incoming links to their site in the same space as links to Viagra and pornography. That seems to me to be the most ligitimate reason for companies attempting to govern the linking to their site.

Again, not justifying "XYZ" charity in this particular situation, just bringing up another side to it.


 3:33 am on Mar 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

You have EVERY RIGT to use their trademarked name, and even their trademarked logo, at least according to United States law, as long as you are not creating market confusion.


The closer you are to their business, the more careful you have to be, but you can still use their marks.

As a private citizen posting to a forum, I can mention Intel without bothering with any sort of disclaimer or funny little symbols. Even AMD can use every single one of Intel's trade and service marks including logos on their web pages. But AMD had to be much more careful, including full acknowledgment of the owner of those marks, and being absolutely certain that they do not create any confusion about who owns which mark.

Ford is able to compare their cars to those made by Chevy. They can even put up a chart where they compare the blue oval with the bowtie logos at table headings. They just need to make it clear that they are not in any way related to the bowtie.


 12:39 pm on Mar 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

So, I create a site selling printers. I only sell printers from one manufacturer. I use their logo on my site in a prominent position which links to their site. However, some people may think that my site is somehow part of the printer manufacturers site. I can understand that the printer company may be unhappy!
So I just use their name, in some fancy design (not their logo) linked to their site at the top of my site - is that any different?

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