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The insurance company advises that one get permission from the other webmaster before linking to his/her site. Verbal permission will usually suffice, but written is preferred. The insurance company then lays out a list of reasons why failing to do so may result in some sort of liability. Some of these reasons even seem plausible.
I know that there are some ethical/legal concerns if the context of the linkage misrepresents the relationship between the two sites, or if deep-linking skirts pages that generate ad revenue. But overall, do webmasters ever go through the trouble of securing written permission for posting simple links? Of course, this is likely just a routine case of an insurance company advocating extreme caution. But since the web is becoming more and more of a commercial exchange, dominated by big companies, should site operators get serious about link permissions? Seems unnatural to me, but what say the rest of you?
Isn't all this the whole point of hyperlinks?
Take your pick, probably a combination of both. If everyone had followed that advice since the internet's inception (when Al Gore created it) it would hardly be what it is today.
Not long ago I found an academic site (professor) that had copied some of my pages onto his site. When I wrote to him to ask him to remove the content and replace it with a link to my site instead, he said that the university wouldn't allow him to link out. After much cajoling, he finally took the content down. I never did get the link.