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Are links themselves subject to copyright?

Link removal request from site claiming they must give permission for link

10:12 pm on Jan 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I'm an individual who has designed a page listing links (organized by state) to animal shelters. The purpose is to try to encourage people to adopt animals that would otherwise be killed (instead of purchasing them). I have logos displayed for some of the shelters (all done with emailed permission from each particular shelter).

This page was up for years, and then down when my ISP went under this past year and lost all data. I recently got my own domain, put the page back up, and emailed all the representative shelters to let them know my new URL, in case they were interested or wished to add their logo if it didn't appear.

I got one angry email from a rescue site that claimed (to paraphrase) 1) They refuse to allow links to their site on sites getting revenue from ads [I have adsense ads on my page]; 2) They are not affiliated with my page [which I never claimed]; and 3) They never gave me permission to link to them, and if I don't remove the link to their site in four days I will be contacted by their legal council.

I do have their logo displayed - someone at their site gave me permission (by email) quite a few years ago, but sadly the hard-drive where I had that information stored at the time got corrupted and the data are unretrievable. I don't have a problem removing their logo if they no longer want it there, or even with removing their contact information (such as email address, which appears on their website). My beef is with their claim that my simply *linking* to their site is illegal if they don't give permission.

I have no money to hire a lawyer to answer this question for me (and I certainly don't have any money to fend off a lawsuit!) - is there any chance anyone here is familiar with whether it is illegal to link to someone's site if they ask you not to? They could hardly claim that I'm stealing customers from them with my ads, as I block/remove all Google ads from breeders or pet stores that sell pets.

Thanks in advance for any advice

12:34 am on Jan 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Power to you for publishing such a helpful website. I imagine, as stated previously, that the shelter people think you are trying to profit from their work. I'd write the shelter director and explain what you are doing and that AdSense is meant to pay the bills for the site, that it helps keep the site, which is trying to help get animals adopted, online.

I also doubt that a local animal shelter, which is probably a non-profit, has the funds to hire a lawyer. It's probably just a threat.

9:43 am on Jan 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Not to be argumentative, but the agency is probably correct that the OP is trying to make a profit off the page. Maybe that's not necessarily wrong, but there's a reason people are dubious about ads appearing on charitable web pages/sites.
12:40 pm on Jan 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Here's another question. what if someone islinking to you in a derogatory manner.

just an example here: say your site is example.com

etc.. you get the idea.

I would think that a company could and should be able to defend against those.

3:57 pm on Jan 22, 2008 (gmt 0)


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Now you're getting into trademark/servivce territory, not copyright.

If you had


I would bet that the Better Business Bureau would win a trademark infringement suit against you because you are most definitely weakening a registered mark.

On the other hand if you had


which was a vicious attack on Linus Torvalds and his mega-software empire that's taking over the world, you would be in the clear as far as the domain name, but you could of course still get into trouble with content (is that a public domain picture?)

The MikeRoweSoft.com case never went to court, but he wasn't even being critical of Microsoft and wasn't really even competing with them. It was clear that he was leveraging their brand recognition, even if just for humor mostly. It would have been interesting to see how a judge would rule, but I bet Mike Rowe would have lost that domain. Of course, if it has been a local pillow store that for thirty years had had the slogan: "Don't settle for soft when you can get Mike Rowe soft" then he should be okay.

9:04 pm on Jan 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Are you sure they haven't been speaking to any Belgian newspaper publishers recently? Copiepresse are currently threatening a round of legal action against the EU commission for linking to their content as well.
1:03 pm on Jan 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

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If it's burning you up so much then just remove the adsense and hey presto the problem goes away.
6:13 pm on Jan 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Just pick up the phone and call them. The situation is more likely to be resolved amicably over the phone than through an email volley.

Right now you can't even tell if the email's legitimate since they did not sign the email.

Edit: Fixed typo

5:08 pm on Jan 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

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we had someting similar

we had a govenment agancy that licences people who work as bouncers get realy stoppy about an acredited training company using the logo on there site.

struck me as odd ist not as if we where saying courses whernt acredited when they where!

Not surprised that Panorama had a big expose on the cockups at that agency a few days ago.

So I pulled all the links so they the agencys SERPS will suck even more than they do now :-)

11:44 pm on Jan 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I don't know if anyone said this, but what do you think Googlebot does?

I never got an email from Google before they indexed my site.

Tell the shelter that you require a:

<meta name="animal-shelter" value="noindex" />

tag if they don't want their link on your site :)

This 39 message thread spans 2 pages: 39