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To Deep Link or Not To Deep Link - Part 2
Interesting court case on deep-linking coming up in Denmark
Mikkel Svendsen

 3:22 pm on Apr 18, 2002 (gmt 0)


Some sources believe the future of deep links may be decided by the outcome of a preliminary injunction filed by the Danish Newspaper Publishers' Association. The association wants the court to ban newsfeed service Newsbooster from deeplinking to Danish newspaper stories.

Basically the Danish newspapers wish the Internet would go away. They simply do not like it (am I the only one here that do not believe the Internet will close soon?) One of my good friends, (Anders) Lautrup-Larsen from NetBooster, used a quote from me to explain the stupidity of what the newspapers are doing: Why join a community (the Internet) only to tell people not to talk to you, refer people to you Ė just leave you alone. Why join the game if you donít want to play?

I have been asked to appear in court to explain how things work on the Internet and how search engines function. I find it very important that this case get solved on solid ground and not on some misunderstanding of how things work.

It will be a great help for me to get this discussion going here to collect even more good reasons and good explanations as to why the Danish newspapers should not win this case.

Any input from you is very appreciated :)



 3:53 pm on Apr 18, 2002 (gmt 0)

Good luck with it.

I'd start with the recent thread on deep linking:


 4:08 pm on Apr 18, 2002 (gmt 0)

I want to thank you Mikkel, for bringing this to the board so we can help you discuss it. I believe these topics merit online discussion and although people may think cases such as this are limited to the region in question, I believe as I'm sure others believe, there are much more far reaching implications. I agree with Brett that the link he suggested is a great start.

I'll be interested to see how others weigh in on this issue.

Mikkel Svendsen

 4:20 pm on Apr 18, 2002 (gmt 0)

Thanks, I agree - the other thread is a very good place to start. What I wanted to do here was collect more good reasons for deep-linking and against stupid cases like this.

Also, I was hoping on picking up a few new good analogies similar to the "community analogy". Courts love simple to understand analogies. Let's face it, most of the people in the court system are old men and women with no or very little understanding of what goes on on the Internet today. I can't really blame them. Things have been changing extremely fast in the last 6-7 years - nothing like ever before.

So, we need to give them simple to understand analogies they can relate to. Letís hit them with something intelligent here ;-)


 4:30 pm on Apr 18, 2002 (gmt 0)

For sites with what they think is valuable intellectual property, there's an easy way to prevent deep linking - use some kind of password control. It could be a free password, or a paid subscription. Actually, it seems that many newspapers are adopting this model - free access to recent articles, and fee-based access to older ones. I don't like it, but it's their content.


 4:36 pm on Apr 18, 2002 (gmt 0)

Here's a comparison that non-Internet users may understand:

You go to the library to get a specific book. You already know that the book is on the shelf, and you have the call number (Dewey or LC number) of the book, because your buddy saw it there yesterday and wrote down the number for you. Moreover, you know the layout of the library so you know where in the library those numbers can be found.

You walk into the library. As you pull out your little slip of paper with the number on it, the librarian sees you. You are informed that it is library policy that you must always start at the card catalog and look up the number. If you don't go to the card catalog, where there are lots of brochures coincidentally available, plugging library programs and asking for donations, then the librarian informs you that they would prefer that you not use the library at all.

A new issue: a public library vs. a private library. Even shadier: a private library that is open to the public. The latter is probably the best equivalent to the Web.


 5:03 pm on Apr 18, 2002 (gmt 0)

Awesome, Everyman!

If you don't go to the card catalog, where there are lots of brochures coincidentally available, plugging library programs and asking for donations, then the librarian informs you that they would prefer that you not use the library at all.

Then it seems that if the library were smart, they'd make those brochures visible from everywhere in the library.


 5:15 pm on Apr 18, 2002 (gmt 0)

A private library that's open to the public doesn't quite capture it either.

How about a private library in a country where all such libraries enjoy tax advantages, and are therefore expected to be open to the public.

In other words, if you don't like the public walking in and pulling out little slips of paper, then don't build the library.

If you don't like deep linking, then take down the website.


 5:41 pm on Apr 18, 2002 (gmt 0)

It continues to amaze me that sites with content donít want deep links. A link is like driving someone right to the shop door, not just the parking lot.

I so often see folks in front of stores offering a free newspaper in hopes that the person picking it up will buy a subscription. I really canít see the difference here, except with deep linking you are giving the audience a perfect example of how relevant the site linked to is. Youíre not just offering them a paper but youíre finding out what their interests are and then locating the exact page in the paper that connects their interest to the content.

I just pray that folks will see the content of my sites as worthy of a deep link. If folks are linking to a particular page then this is affirmation that the content is good, that Iím doing a good job, and that folks not only want to visit themselves but are inviting others along as well.


 5:46 pm on Apr 18, 2002 (gmt 0)

I think a newspaper website with a policy of not allowing links to its online articles would be like:

- A newspaper telling a university to prevent their students from quoting the newspaper content in cited research papers, or...
- A newspaper telling other news outlets (a TV news program, for instance) not to mention the newspaper content as a source in any of their reporting, or...
- A newspaper joining a news syndicate (like UPI or Reuters), but refusing to allow any of their own articles to be distributed through the syndicate's content feed...

It's just an utterly silly policy... ESPECIALLY for a newspaper!

Mikkel Svendsen

 7:41 pm on Apr 18, 2002 (gmt 0)

One other fuunny thing bout this case is some of comments from the people from the Danish Newspaper Publishers' Association.

Holger Rosendal seems to think that deep-linking is OK as long as it is done by his journalists to supprot the articles they write and publish - and as long as other do not do the same. When the links are colleced by humans it's ok to deep-link but if you have a computer do the same you are not allowed. What kind of logic is that?


 9:35 pm on Apr 18, 2002 (gmt 0)

Also, I was hoping on picking up a few new good analogies similar to the "community analogy".

The analogy I like to use is the READER'S GUIDE TO PERIODICAL LITERATURE, which has been indexing magazine articles for decades. When you look up a topic in the READER'S GUIDE index, you get a list of articles, magazine titles, issue dates, and page numbers. In other words, the READER'S GUIDE doesn't just send you to GENTLEMEN'S QUARTERLY if you're looking for an article on Armani suits--it sends you to the July, 2001 issue, page 79, to read "Knights in Shining Armani."

Another analogy is the academic citation. That analogy is especially relevant since the Web began as a tool for academics and technical types. If you read an academic paper on anything--whether it's Paul Revere tankards or "strange matter" in the universe--you'll find citations that point to specific books, articles, or papers--and often to specific page numbers, which are direct counterparts of URLs.

Mikkel Svendsen

 10:06 am on Apr 19, 2002 (gmt 0)

GREAT, europeforvisitors - that's just the kind of analogies we need. This is the kind of talk that normal people can relate to. Thanks!,

click watcher

 10:32 am on Apr 19, 2002 (gmt 0)

here in england newspapers are published in sections,

i can go straight to the sports news and not look at any other supplement..

... in a different line,
i'm not a progammer but i thought it was possible to redirect all referrals to the front page - a kind of reverse cloaking mechanism,
consider the internet to be a huge public park made up of many small adjacent "private" plots which are therefore continuous, anyone who knows where it is can walk around in, skydive into whever they like etc.
... but i can fence my little bit of park in if i want and set intelligent guard dogs to roam around, anyone who drops in can get redirected to the front door, or if they have a "pass" eg been referred from an acceptable source they can stay where they are.

i'll think of some better stuff during the day.

thanks for opening up the discussion

Mikkel Svendsen

 11:19 am on Apr 19, 2002 (gmt 0)

Yes, it is indeed possible to "redirect" all traffic to the front page of your site if you don't want visitors to go directly to any page. In fact, there is multiple ways of doing that and it is not even that difficult :)

I do think that the websites that - as stupid as it might be - want to isolate themselves in this way will eventually do it using technology. Just like the attorney, Jacobs is quoted to say in the article: "Technology often solves the problems that technology creates".

In the meantime, I find it important that the legal system do not block the road to the ongoing development of the Internet with stupid cases like this one. Itís important for all of us that these cases get solved the right way so we do not end up with ridiculous limitations on what we may or may not do.


 6:06 pm on Apr 19, 2002 (gmt 0)

I wonder if the FBI [fbi.gov] is watching this closely, given that they have a stake in the outcome.

Learning Curve

 5:05 pm on Apr 27, 2002 (gmt 0)

"Legality of 'Deep Linking' Remains Deeply Complicated," Cyber Law Journal, New York Times on the Web, April 7 2002,

Review of the current ambiguous situation in U.S. courts regarding deep linking.


 3:24 pm on May 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

to add to the question: Site Barks About Deep Link [wired.com]

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