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Ruling Handed Down in Danish Deep Linking Case

 3:12 pm on Jul 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

"Newsbooster.com barred from linking to Danish newspaper Web sites"
AP Story [story.news.yahoo.com]

Comments from Newsbooster (site involved in law suit)
[newsbooster.com ]

Background Here
[wired.com ]



 3:17 pm on Jul 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

Uh-oh! Rumbas, we want to talk to you about Denmark....


 3:19 pm on Jul 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

Interesting - this might have implications for large international sites if it is upheld. For smaller sites without a presence in Denmark, though, it's probably just a curiousity at this point. I doubt if the Danish Web Police will be showing up on your doorstep anytime soon...

Torben Lundsgaard

 3:21 pm on Jul 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

There has been a lot international attention to this case about deep linking because Newsbooster.com is crawling and deep linking to news sites all over the world. Right now Newsbooster.com is appealing…


 3:24 pm on Jul 5, 2002 (gmt 0)


however this could gain some feet, and start to take off, as some of the big national paper publishers, which are dependant mostly on income from off the shelf sales, have been facing considerable reductions in sales, becuase of the advent of the digital age, > a.k.a. free information on the web.


 3:27 pm on Jul 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

For practical purposes, what is the difference of this and Google or FAST spidering a news site and listing individual pages? Seems like the same thing.


 3:31 pm on Jul 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

Deep linking is of course the lifeblood of the Web. without it, the web loses a lot of its hyperlinking soul. But I guess web site owners and copyright owners should have the right to ask for links to be removed to them. I dont see deep linking as a "right" as many webloggers do, though we deep link a lot and if someone asks us to delete a link we will. However to this site deep linking is its whole rationale.

I doubt very few sites would request not to be deeplinked to, though i know a few that do (and aggressively claim that deeplinking is 'illegal' which is a doubtful claim in most parts of the world) and doubt they would make much difference really to how the web works.

[edited by: chiyo at 3:41 pm (utc) on July 5, 2002]


 3:33 pm on Jul 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

As far as I can see it's exactly the same.

Having lived in DK since 1995 (on and off) I've come to the opinion that the danes are sometimes a little hasty in judgement. But common sense generally prevails in the end.

My guess is that this will go to the next level and get overturned.



 3:37 pm on Jul 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

Brad, maybe google and FAST asked first?

Torben Lundsgaard

 3:42 pm on Jul 5, 2002 (gmt 0)


Here’s how it works.

Newsbooster has a robot that visits a large number of news sites all over the world. When you set up your account you keywords that Newsbooster should look for. It then copies the headlines of the matching news and publishes them in your personal newsletter, together with a deep link back to the source.

You pay EUR 199,- (about the same in US$) for a 12 month subscribtion. So they are actually making money on deep links to free news sites.


Torben Lundsgaard

 3:55 pm on Jul 5, 2002 (gmt 0)


I agree that deep linking is welcomed in most cases as long as the site linking isn't trying to hide the ownership and the copyright is clear.

However, this is a case where Newsbooster.com is making money on deep links.

WmW is a free site with no advertising, which means that Brett needs another income. Do you think that Brett on purpose would let another company profit on his free content with out getting a revenue share?

This is a very complex case, which is why news sites from all over the world are watching.



 4:28 pm on Jul 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

It's kind of a fine line, I guess. Newsbooster is really more of a paid search engine rather than a content provider. I think what they are doing is fine, and my guess is that they are providing a net traffic increase to those sites. Now if Newsbooster opened the content in their own frame, or attepted to disguise where the content was from, that would be a different story.

If I had an online newspaper, I'd welcome anything that brought me traffic from visitors that would have been unlikely to visit otherwise. (Of course, these Danish news sites might not need the traffic. I know when there's breaking news I always check The Copenhagen Times right before I head to CNN.com. ;))


 4:36 pm on Jul 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

Actually, re: the webmasterworld scenario. I believe brett has RSS feeds available which would mean he does indeed let other companies profit on his content.

Well, maybe the 'profit' is a grey area but I think the only recompense he gets is links back to the site.




 5:11 pm on Jul 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

Torben, agreed it is a complex case. However, most advertising supported sites have ads on each page, and a policy link. Plus the deep link gives them a chance to convert the one page visit to a home page visit.

However if these sites are not designed to do this, I can understand they think they may not be getting the branding or revenue they would want than if somebody entered from the front page.

There is also the issue of reproducing the headline.If you have a RSS feed you are saying that the headline is OK to republish, but if you are being scraped or spidered without your permission you could have a case.

As far as making money off linking to other's content, that is a fairly well established practice. Almost all search engines do it. Directories do it. Many news aggregators do it. Moreover does it, though they ask first. Weblogs sometimes do it, tho there is reportedly only one definately making money. :)

I guess the question to the management is not how much a "distribitor" or "repackager" is making but whether its actually increasing the revenue for the site or maybe decreasing it.

If i was running these dutch newspapers and losing money becuase of the news aggregator site, then I guess I would be suing too, if i couldnt find any other way to block their scraper or spider. I guess they dont respect robot.txt and they use different IP addresses to connect so they cant be blocked.


 5:15 pm on Jul 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

I wouldn't imagine for a moment that these danish sites have anything sophisticated in the way of anti-naughty-robot stuff. They will now though!



 5:16 pm on Jul 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

there are often problems in Denmark if we talk about internet, I know that many advertising sites for publishers often do not accept web pages from Denmark because of fraud and many online casinos do not accept danish site as affiliate. A site cald bold.dk a sport site was not allowed to link to a online bookmaker because of the danish gambling company Tipstjenesten.



 5:29 pm on Jul 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

oops! sorry Nick.. danish then.. now im feeling hungry..


 5:35 pm on Jul 5, 2002 (gmt 0)


Yeah, Denmark can be an odd place sometimes, particularly where law and government are concerned. We recently elected a party that has an part of made of of serious bigots/racists with outrageous immigration policy's.



 5:40 pm on Jul 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

so you have a raving loonies party too nick? :) Sorry this is getting foo-ish..


 6:37 pm on Jul 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

this has no impact on nothing.

it's just another of those wrong judical decrees due to ignorant judges that happen all the time when it comes to internet related issues.

this would mean to shut down search-engines and almost all pages that have links to actual content. this would mean to stop printing tv-magazines and whatnot.

there seems to be some kind of new law out there (not sure if it only appeals to internet issues) that says "if you are a small company and you do something that lowers the biz of a big company, you will loose the trial, no matter what it's about".

otherwise, go and sue altavista for deeplinking... good luck.


 6:43 pm on Jul 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

newsbooster obeys the robots.txt... so why didn't these newspapers just ban it ? looks like they just want to get rid of a competitor.


 6:55 pm on Jul 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

I disagree. My guess is they don't know what robots.txt is and are just getting all narky about someone daring to link to them. Take ir from me, it's in charicter...


Mikkel Svendsen

 6:55 pm on Jul 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

I just came back from the court room and the meeting after the ruling. It's been a long sad day!

I have been involved in the case, consulting NewsBooster on search related issues before, under and now after the case - so I know a great deal about the details of the case.

I was there during the case and at the ruling today and there is nothing in the ruling that fit NewsBooster that would not fit Google or FAST as well. Had it been either one of the two engines that had been on trial - and not NewsBooster - they would have lost. In many ways, what Google and FAST is doing is far more extreme than what NewsBooster is doing and was convicted for. I only have to mention caching of full pages, converting of formats (manipulation of copyrighted material), picture search etc …

What happened today is that a search engines was banned in court – it could have been any search engine, but the newspapers lawyers (wisely) chose a very small one with limited funds to defend themselves.

Google make money too (I hope so), and both FAST and Inktomi try to do that also :) – There is no different from what Google is trying to do and What NewsBooster is doing. They basically run a search engine. Google cover everything – NewsBooster just cover a small corner of the Internet. Google make money on what they collect by crawling from partnerships and advertising. NewsBooster do it by subscription.

The ruling said nothing about HOW NewsBooster makes money from the service – just the fact that it is NewsBoosters _core_ business to make money from the URL’s they find by crawling the web. That is exactly what any search engine (tries) to do.

I will be ready to answer any detailed questions any of you might have about the case. Also, if you are with the press and need to talk to me or any of the involved parties in the case I can arrange for it.

I usually do not reveal my phone and e-mail publicly like this, but the case is to important for any delays so you are welcome to contact me at either: newsbooster@joyzone.dk or (+45) 22 27 07 10 – direct line.


 7:00 pm on Jul 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the fascinating first hand report Mikkel.

Was newbooster obeying robots.txt exclusions? Was that issue brought into the case at all?


 7:04 pm on Jul 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

Great post mikkel!

Do you think this is a case of the 'danish complacensy' seen in many industries in .dk? I mean, competition is almost a dirty word right, so I figure it's just a case of sour grapes and showing of muscle.

Do you think/know if it will go a level higher?

Nick (english living in .dk)

Mikkel Svendsen

 7:15 pm on Jul 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

Yes, NewsBooster do not only obey Robots.txt files but also freely distributed an example to all the newspapers to use. Only one newspaper use it today [politiken.dk...] - so NewsBooster never crawled that one. The strange thing is that this newspaper was part of the case too! There was also a number of newspapers that was part of the case that do not even have a website and others that NewsBooster never crawled (because they are too bad).

Yes, the case WILL go to a higher level. This afternoons discussion and I had with the CEO of the company concluded that. It also looks like they found the money for it, so the case do not end here.

But this case is not just any little case. The newspapers are very powerful politically here (like, I guess, they are most places in the free world). The ruling today was political – no doubt about that. There are some very strong forces – some of the strongest – behind the newspapers here. They fought this case at a level that no one had expected using more lawyers and more time than normally for this type of cases. They rolled out the complete army for this and they are not going to stop at the next level. They believe wining this case to the top is fundamental for newspapers to stay alive in the future – They think that if they loose Denmark will soon have no newspapers at all, and I think they have a good chance of convincing a lot of powerful people, businesses and organizations about this. It’s sad but true.


 7:15 pm on Jul 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

I dont think we will see such a case in the usa, because in Denmark everything is a little wierd when you got a good idea or have good business and the business laws in the usa is a little different.



 7:20 pm on Jul 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

>I dont think we will see such a case in the usa

We've already seen several. The most recent one was the Dallas newspaper one. More will surely follow.

That is interesting Mikkel.

Mikkel Svendsen

 7:20 pm on Jul 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

This has nothing to do with business law. They were convicted on 1) Marketing laws (that are special for denmark) and 2) Copyright law that based on the same international agreements that most countries have signed up to.

The last part is off course where we have the real problem here and why this ruling is important for everyone.


 7:48 pm on Jul 5, 2002 (gmt 0)


what did the judge say about the robots.txt issue ?

This 59 message thread spans 2 pages: 59 ( [1] 2 > >
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