Registration Still Open



by William Fisher, Dequan Wang, and Shel Woodruff

Last Updated:  June 11, 2002

Table of Contents

Case Study
Discussion Topics
Additional Resources


The Internet is a vast network that connects many smaller groups of linked computer networks, on and through which information is stored and transmitted.  The "interconnected" character of the Internet is one of the things that makes it so popular and powerful in facilitating communication and electronic commerce. However, "interconnectivity" has also given rise to increasing legal controversy and turmoil. Various methods of enhancing or exploiting the web-like structure of the Internet have been attacked as violations of others' intellectual property or other proprietary rights.  In this module, we will consider the current status of those controversies.  The Case Study explores in some detail one recent case of this general sort.  The Readings then examine the histories of some related dimensions of "interconnectivity."

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Case Study operates a "visual search engine" on the Internet. Like other Internet search engines, it allows a user to obtain a list of related Websites in response to a search query entered by the user. Unlike other Internet search engines, Ditto retrieves images instead of text.  More specifically, it generates a list of reduced, "thumbnail" versions of photographs related to a user's query.  To see how the system currently works, please visit Enter a phrase in the search box and click "Search."  Then click on any of the "thumbnail" pictures retrieved by your query.

To compile its database of approximately two million thumbnail images, Ditto uses a "spider" or "crawler."  A spider is simply an automated program that explores (crawls) the Web, looking for information. The most common kinds of spiders are the ones that collect web pages for search engines to index.  (To learn more about this technology, see how Search Engines and Spiders work.)  When Ditto's spider finds an image, it makes a temporary, full-sized copy of it on Ditto's servers, then uses that copy to create a smaller, lower resolution "thumbnail" version.  Once the thumbnail has been prepared, the full-sized image is deleted.

As you have noticed if you have visited Ditto's current site, a user of the system is invited to "click on any picture to go directly to it on the web."  When a user accepts this invitation, a new browser window opens, displaying the website from which the image was originally taken and showing the image in its intended context.  An older, now superceded version of the service, operated by Arriba Soft (the predecessor company to Ditto), worked significantly differently, employing a process popularly known as "inline linking."  When a user of the original Arriba system "clicked" on a thumbnail image, he or she was taken to an "Image Attributes" page, which showed a full-sized version of the image along with a textual description of the image, a link to the site from which it was taken, the Arriba banner, and Arriba advertising.  The full-sized image did not reside on Arriba's servers but was imported directly from the originating page.  However, the typical user, seeing the image surrounded by text and advertising generated by Arriba, would assume that Arriba had copied it.

Leslie Kelly is a photographer who maintains two Web sites. provides a "virtual tour" of California's gold rush country and promotes Kelly's book on the subject. markets corporate retreats in California's gold rush country. Approximately thirty-five of Kelly's images were indexed by the Arriba crawler and put in Arriba's image database. As a result, these images were made available in thumbnail form to users of Ditto's visual search engine.

Angered by the nonpermissive use of his photographs -- and, in particular, by the inline linking system through which they were displayed to users -- Kelly sued Arriba for copyright infringement.  (An account of the origins of the case, colored by strong support for Kelly's position, can be found at

Before reading the responses of the various courts that have heard the case, try to formulate your own opinion of the proper outcome.  In doing so, consider the following questions:

1.  All versions of the defendant's search engine (including the present one) assist web users in finding images and then downloading them to the users' own hard drives -- for their own enjoyment or for commercial purposes.  Unauthorized copying of that sort may itself violate the copyright statute.  Should the defendant be liable for facilitating such behavior?

2.  Arriba's first and second-generation systems enabled users to "deep link" directly to the pages containing retrieved images, and thereby bypass the "front page" of the originating Web site. As a result, these users would be less likely to view all of the advertisements on an originating Web site or to view the Web site's entire promotional message.  Is harm of this sort sufficient to render the systems illegal?

3.  One of the judges who considered the case reasoned that "where, as here, a new use and new technology are evolving, the broad transformative purpose of the use weighs more heavily than the inevitable flaws in its early stages of development." Do you agree?

4.  A robots.txt file is a widely recognized standard used to stop search engines from crawling a web site. It works as a de facto automatic copyright notice for spiders.  Is it fair to infer that websites not employing this device are "inviting" or "acquiescing" in visits by spiders?

So how was the case actually resolved?  At the trial level, Arriba prevailed.  Judge Taylor of the Central District of California ruled that, although Arriba, by displaying without permission thumbnail versions of Kelly's photographs, had violated section 106 of the Copyright Act, its conduct was nevertheless excused by the "fair use" doctrine embodied in section 107.  (His full opinion is available here.)  In February of this year, a panel of the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed.  The panel agreed with Taylor's analysis concerning the legitimacy of Arriba's creation and use of the thumbnail versions of Kelly's images.  It held, however, that the fair use doctrine did not excuse the inline linking to the full-sized versions of Kelly's images by Arriba's original search engine.  The defendants have sought a review of the panel's ruling by the entire Court of Appeals, but reconsiderations of that sort are rare, so the panel's decision is likely to be decisive.

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An Overview

The legal and technical issues involved in Web site publishing are intertwined. To see how they fit together, please read the following survey:  Martin J. Elgison and James M. Jordan III, "Trademark Cases Arise from Meta-Tags, Frames. Disputes Involve Search-Engine Indexes, Web Sites Within Web Sites, As Well As Hyperlinking."  Some of the individual issues discussed by Elgison and Jordan are explored in more detail below:

(1) Linking

"Linking" (also referred to as hyperlinking) is the primary mechanism by which Internet sites are connected. By simply clicking on a "live" word or image in one Web page, the user can view another Web page located on server elsewhere in the world, or simply elsewhere on the same server as the original page. This system helps gives the Web its extraordinary communicative power.  However, under some circumstances, a link may also undermine the rights or interests of the "target" site.

(a) Avoiding Advertisements or Message by Deep Linking

Suppose, for example, that X sets up a homepage for her site. On the homepage she places some advertisements, from which she hopes to make some money. The homepage also contains links to various subordinate pages, which contain content that X believes consumers wish to see. Y then creates his own Web site, which contains links to X's subordinate pages. The net result is that visitors to Y's site will be able to gain access to X's material, without going through X's homepage where the advertisements are placed.  This activity is called "deep linking." (For an illustration of deep linking, please click here. This will take you to a news article on without going through its homepage.)

One of the first major cases in the law of linking arose in Scotland. At issue was the use by one news Web site of the headlines of another news Web site to link to the latter's stories. Read about this case in the following article: Scottish Court Orders Online Newspaper to Remove Links to Competitor's Website.

A little over two years after the Shetland News decision, a California court was presented with an analogous case. In reading about this dispute, consider the factual, legal, and cultural differences that might have led to its drastically different conclusion: CA Judge Dismisses Copyright Claims Based on Linking.

Recently, a host of new cases involving linking have arisen. The most interesting of these involve allegations of "contributory copyright infringement." On this theory, it is asserted that Web sites should be held accountable when they provide links that assist Web users to engage in nonpermissive copying of copyrighted works.  The first case takes place in Holland: Scientologists' copyright suit shapes Net liability, Dan Goodin, CNET (June 9, 1999). The second case arose in Utah: Intellectual Reserve, Inc. v. Utah Lighthouse Ministry, Summary (Dec. 6, 1999)

In Japan, if a website links to an illegal site, such as pornography, the web site owner could be indicted for having "aided and abetted" the public exhibition of illegal materials.

(b) Avoiding Agree Pages by Deep Linking

Another issue arises when X sets up a homepage with an “agree” link to prevent visitors from entering X’s site without agreeing to various terms. Visitors to X’s page must click on “agree” to secure that they will follow the terms of X’s homepage before going on to subordinate pages. Y then creates a Web site that links to X’s subordinate pages. The result is that the visitors to Y’s site will be able to gain access to X’s materials without promising to agree to X’s terms.

The case that most squarely presents the legal issues raised by this practice is Ticketmaster Corp. v., Inc., 54 U.S.P.Q.2d 1344 (C.D. Cal. 2000). Ticketmaster sought to enjoin from linking to subordinate pages of to buy tickets to concerts and other events. The link from bypassed the Ticketmaster homepage, which listed “terms and conditions,” one of which prohibited deep linking. Ticketmaster filed, among other complaints, a breach of contract claim, on the ground that had circumvented the “terms and conditions” on the homepage. Ticketmaster argued that this case was analogous to a "shrink-wrap license" case, where the packaging on the outside of a product states certain terms and conditions to which purchasers, once they open the package, are bound.  [The conflicting doctrines pertaining to this marketing strategem were reviewed in the second module.]  Ticketmaster claims that in effect had allowed users to bypass the packaging of the Ticketmaster site.

The US District Court in California disagreed and held that this application of deep linking was permissible.  In denying the plaintiff a preliminary injunction, the court emphasized the fact that, unlike many web sites that make the visitor click on "agree" to the terms and conditions before going on, did not require any manifestation of assent.  The court distinguished this case from “shrink-wrap license” cases, because whereas the packaging on a product is exposed and noticeable, the “terms and conditions” on the Ticketmaster site can be overlooked since there is no “agree” page. The court further pointed out that the terms and conditions on the Ticketmaster site are set forth so that the user needs to scroll down the home page to find and read them. Hence, the court stated, users can easily go on to subordinate pages without reading the terms and conditions. The court concluded that mere inclusion of terms and conditions on a web site does not create a contract with any one using the site, because there are no facts showing either knowledge of the terms or agreement to them.  A panel of the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit summarily affirmed.

Since this decision, Ticketmaster has employed technical methods of blocking direct access to subordinate pages, so that any link from an outside site takes the user to the main page of It would appear from this ruling that deep linking that does not circumvent “agree” pages would be free from liability. However, this decision was made in a minute order not intended to have precedential authority.  Hence, future decisions may be necessary to determine whether deep-linking that does not bypass an agree page is  permissible.

(2) Framing

The related practice of "framing" may also serve to undermine the rights of Web site owners.  The use of "frames" allows a Web page creator to divide a user's Web browser window into several separate areas.  The programmer of the Web page can dictate what goes into each frame. Commonly, a Web site designer creates a page that at all times displays one frame containing the name of the Web site and other identifying information.  For example, a Web site employing frames might always show the original Web site's graphic logo on the top of the page while allowing the user to view the "framed" site in a different frame. (For an illustration, please visit   Click on "US Local", then "Birmingham Post-Herald."  The latter site, you will see, is "framed.")

Persons and organizations whose sites are "framed" without permission have objected to this practice on three main grounds:  First, they argue that Web surfers might easily be confused concerning the relationship between the framed site and the framing site. Second, the framing site is parasitic, unfairly deriving traffic from the legally protected work on the framed site.  Third, the activity of framing distorts the aesthetic of the target site.

One of the first legal disputes arising out of objections of these sorts involved Total News (, a Web site that links to several major news sites. Although the case brought against Total News was settled (and therefore never resulted in any substantive law), its facts provide an excellent illustration of the difficulties presented by framing. Please read the attached excerpt from Mary M. Luria, "Controlling Web Advertising: Spamming, Linking, Framing, and Privacy."

Another framing case in which the defendant prevailed is Futuredontics, Inc. v. Applied Anagramics, Inc.. In retrospect, the outcome probably derived from a crucial omission in the plaintiff's case: no evidence of damage from the defendant's activities had been shown.

The most recent case to have addressed the framing issue is Kelly v. Arriba Soft, discussed in the Case Study, above.  The Ninth Circuit's ruling that Arriba's original search engine impermissibly "displayed" the plaintiff's copyrighted photographs was based in part on the fact that, through a combination of inline links and framing, Arriba made it appear that Kelly's images were located on Arriba's own site.  Whether this ruling will be extended to the more common case in which an entire webpage, rather than an individual image contained therein, is "framed" remains to be seen.

(3) Meta Tags

Web sites are written in the HTML language.  This language consists of a set of "tags" that can be used to format and arrange text, images, and other multimedia files. "Meta tags" are tags that have no visible effect on the Web page.  Instead, they exist in the source code for a Web page to assist search engines in ascertaining the content of the page.  Problems arise when website designers include in their lists of meta tags the names or descriptions of other companies.

(a) Trademarks in Meta Tags

Suppose, for example, that Coca Cola used the keyword "Pepsi" in its meta tags. Web surfers who used search engines to obtain information about "Pepsi" would then be directed to Coca Cola's Web site. The gravitational power of meta tags has been diminishing as search engines have become more sophisticated in the ways they strive to ascertain the contents of Web sites.  Nevertheless, meta tags retain sufficient capacity to shape behavior on the Internet to continue to generate legal controveries.

One of the first such cases was Oppedahl & Larson v. Advanced Concepts, Civ. No. 97-Z-1592 (D.C. Colo., July 23, 1997). The defendants were found to have no defensible reason for using the name of Oppedahl & Larson (a law firm that had dealt in domain name disputes) in their meta tags.  By using the plaintiff's name in the tag, the defendants were trying to capture traffic that would gain them domain name registration fees or web site hosting clients. The court barred them from using the name without authorization. For more details regarding this case, please read David J. Loundy, "Hidden Code Sparks High-Profile Lawsuit."

By contrast, in Playboy vs. Terri Welles, Civ. No. C-97-3204 (N.D. Cal., Sept. 8, 1997) District Judge Judith N. Keep refused to grant an injunction against Terri Welles, Playboy's 1981 Playmate of the Year, to prevent her from using terms such as "Playmate" and "Playboy" on her web pages and within her meta tags. The judge ruled that the defendant was making fair use of Playboy's marks because she was using them to describe herself truthfully on the web site.  The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Playboy's appeal of the ruling on Oct. 27, 1998.  For more details concerning the case, see Playboy Enterprises v. Welles.

A recent decision in a similar vein is Bihari v. Gross.  Plaintiffs Marianne Bihari and Bihari Interiors, Inc., owner of the service mark "Bihari Interiors," brought a trademark infringement action against Gross, operator of a website that harshly criticized Bihari's business practices.  Among the many bases of Bihari's complaint was Gross' use of the term "Bihari" in his meta tags.  In finding for the defendant, the district court emphasized the fact that Bihari did not have a website of her own.  Thus, users were unlikely to experience even "initial interest confusion" when searching the Internet for information about Bihari Interiors. Citing Playboy v. Welles, the court further held that Gross had used the terms "Bihari Interiors" and "Bihari," not as trademarks, but rather in a descriptive sense to fairly identify the content of his websites.  For more information on this case, see Bihari v. Gross.

An entirely different tone was set by Judge Spero of the Northern District of California in a case involving two rival software companies.  A consultant employed by Forms Processing Inc. (FPI) to "increase its prominence with search engines" allegedly copied some of the metatags in Oyster Software's website and then included them in FPI's website.  Despite the fact that FPI, upon being notified by Oyster, promptly removed the offending material, Oyster brought suit alleging copyright infringement, trademark infringement, and "trespass to chattels." Judge Spero rejected most aspects of FPI's motion to dismiss the suit.  The most striking aspect of his ruling is his determination that, merely by visiting Oyster's website in order to obtain the metatags in question, FPI may have been guilty of "intentionally interfering with the possession of personal property" (namely Oyster's servers).  This represents a potentially radical extension of the theory of "trespass to chattels," first introduced in the Ebay case (discussed below).

The newest decision in this category involves efforts by Victoria's Secret to defend their famous trademark for lingerie and women's apparel against encroachment.  One of the many ways in which Artco Equipment allegedly misused that mark was by employing the term, "victoria's secret," in the metatags for websites in which Artco offered lingerie and sex toys.  In March 2002, Judge Smith of the Southern District of Ohio brushed aside all of the defendant's effort to excuse this conduct, concluding that the case presented classic examples of "bait and switch" use of a trademark, "initial interest confusion," and trademark dilution.

(b) Generic Words

What happens when the the word used in a metatag is an everyday term? Suppose, for example, that Coca Cola sought to enjoin Pepsi from using “always” in a meta-tag on the web site, on the ground that it created confusion with Coca Cola's trademarked slogan, “Always Coca Cola."  One might think that such a common term, taken out of context, would be free for use by anyone.  But a recent decision by a federal court in Connecticut casts doubt on that assumption.  In Prime Publishers, Inc. v. American-Republican, Inc., 160 F.Supp.2d 266 (D. Conn. 2001), Prime sought to enjoin American from using the word “voices” in the meta-tag of the American site. The court agreed, because it found that although “voices” is a generic word, there was no need for American to use the word "voices" to describe the features or qualities of its site. Prime owned a newspaper called “Voices” and American owned a newspaper called “the Waterbury Republican-American.”  The court reasoned, to members of the newspaper world,  the word “voices” suggests the Prime paper. Thus a likelihood exists that business advertisers and internet users could be confused as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of the website.  No proof of actual confusion was necessary; a risk of such confusion was sufficient. The court prohibited American from using the word "voices" in any part of the web site including the meta-tags.

(4) Search Engines

(a) Finding Queries

Search Engines are popular web-retrieval tools that match a search query submitted by an Internet user with the websites whose content best corresponds to the submitted search terms.  A few search engines sell to websites the right to be placed high on the lists generated in response to users' queries.  Most, however, create their listings automatically. This is usually achieved as follows:  The search engine constructs and activates a "spider," also known as a "crawler" or "robot."  The spider visits web pages, reads them, follows the embedded links to other pages, etc.  Everything the spider finds is deposited in the search engine's index.  Finally, the search engine's software sifts through the millions of pages recorded in the index to find matches to a given query and then ranks those matches in order of relevance.  For general information about search engines, please refer to

As the Case Study suggested, this activity is especially likely to trigger accusations of copyright infringement when used by visual search engines, such a  (For a historical and technical perspective on visual search engines, take a look at AltaVista's Photo Finder service, introduced in 1998.)  In such cases, the defendants primary line of defense is likely to be the fair-use doctrine.  It is possible that, in the future, similar challenges could be brought against search engines that prepare brief textual summaries, typically copied from the listed websites.  (See, for example, Google.)

(b) Posting Banner Ads

Some search engines use keywords to trigger banner ads atop their search result lists. Netscape, Excite, and Yahoo, for example, have long been selling certain words to advertisers who want their banner ads to appear when those words are entered by an Internet user.  Recently, these search engines have also begun selling trademarked terms as keywords. The latter practice has given rise to litigation.

In Playboy Enterprises, Inc. v. Netscape Communications Corp., 55 F. Supp. 2d 1070 (C.D. Cal. 1999), affrimed in 202 F. 3d 278 (9th Cir. 1999), Netscape and Excite sold the terms "playboy" and "playmate" as keyword search terms prompting banner ads for adult entertainment sites. Playboy, which owns the trademarks in both terms, claimed that this practice would produce both consumer confusion and the "dilution" of its marks. The United States District Court for the Central District of California disagreed. The court reasoned that "playboy" and "playmate" are generic words that could be used by a variety of companies. Furthermore, Playboy failed to prove that users of the search-engines were likely to be confused by the banner ads.

In a similar case, Estée Lauder, Inc. filed lawsuits against Excite and an online cosmetic company, Fragrance Counter, Inc., in the United States, Germany, and France. In each case, Estée Lauder attempted to enjoin Excite's sale of the search term, "Estée Lauder," to an online fragrance discounter as a banner ad trigger.  In Germany, a District Court agreed with the plaintiff -- and thus prohibited Excite and iBeauty, the successor to the Fragrance Counter, from using the keywords "Estée Lauder", "Clinique", and "Origins", to trigger iBeauty’s banner ads on the Excite Website. The court also ordered Excite and iBeauty to cease the use of the trademarks within banner ads. The court reasoned that Excite and iBeauty had engaged in improper exploitation and unfair business practices under German law. In the parallel case in the United States, however, Estée Lauder’s motion was dismissed. However, Estée Lauder and iBeauty ended up settling in an agreement in which iBeauty voluntarily agreed to refrain from using the Estée Lauder trademarks as Internet keywords. Afterwards, Estée Launder and Excite settled in an agreement in which Estée Launder’s ads will now pop up when users enter those words.

See Beth I. Z. Boland, Daniel B. Trinkle & Christine M. Baker, Initial Interest Confusion” and the Use of Meta-Tags and Keyed Banner Ads in Internet Trademark Law, 45 Boston Bar Journal 6 (Oct. 2001) for additional discussion of search-engines' use of trigger words for banner ads.

(5) Spiders

Occasionally, spiders are used by organizations other than search engines. Bidder's Edge (BE) was one such organization.  Until recently, BE operated an online "auction aggregation service."  In other words, it did not itself operate a Internet-based auction, but rather provided users links to auctions being held on other sites.  One of the sites to which BE provided such connections was eBay, the largest and most famous auction system in the world.  To gather and update information from Ebay, a BE spider "crawled" into the Ebay system approximately 100,000 times a day.  Ebay objected.  When negotiations broke down, Ebay brought suit and ultimately prevailed -- not on the basis of copyright or trademark infringement, but on the ground that the nonpermissive searches conducted by BE's spider constituted a "trespass to chattels." The court's opinion is available here.

The case was appealed to the federal Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.  28 law professors submitted a brief to the Court of Appeals, arguing that the district court's trespass theory would unavoidably extend to linking. "Linking, like search engines, would now seem to exist at the sufferance of the link-to party, because a Web surfer who followed a 'disapproved' link would be trespassing on the plaintiff's server just as Bidder's Edge was." The professors believed that "requiring permission to link has dire implications for free speech as well as electronic commerce." (Please click here to read the entire brief of Amici Curiae.)  For better or worse, this argument will not be considered by the court because in July 2001, on the eve of oral argument, Bidder's Edge, nearing financial and business collapse, settled the suit.

For a discussion of the difficulty of applying old legal doctrines to new kinds of technology -- and a proposal concerning a sensible way of handling unwanted spiders, see Maureen A. O'Rourke Shaping Competition on the Internet: Who Owns Product And Pricing Information?

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Discussion Topics

1.   Who should have won in the and Bidder's Edge cases?

2.  Are the social advantages of interconnectivity sufficiently strong that the plaintiffs in all of these cases should lose?  If not, in what ways should the law limit the ability of web site designers to make nonpermissive connections to other web sites?

3.  Some observers think that the unsatisfactory ways in which courts have thus far handled cases involving interconnectivity demonstrate, among other things, how poorly suited traditional intellectual-property and tort doctrines are for addressing conflicts that arise on the Internet.  In other words, these judicial decisions are sometimes cited in support of the general proposition that we need an entirely new legal doctrine to govern the Internet.  Do you agree?

4.  Web site owners who wish to avoid "being framed" by other sites can use HTML coding to establish strong (though not perfect) defenses. That is, a Web page can be encoded so that most Web browsers will not allow it to appear within a frame, but only in its own, separate browser window.  (Click here to learn about these techniques.)  To what extent do you believe that Web site owners wishing not to be framed should be required to employ such technical solutions before they can seek legal redress?

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Additional Resources

Supplemental Readings

Law Primer: Copyright Basics: If you are unfamiliar with this body of law and would like to know more, click here to check out our copyright primer and related links.

Law Primer: Trademark Law. Much of the debate concerning the legitimacy of meta tags involves trademark law. If you are unfamiliar with this body of law and would like to know more, check out the trademark section in the library.

Mark Sableman, Link Law: The Emerging Law of Internet Hyperlinks. A thorough examination of legal implications of hyperlink use on the Internet. A long but comprehensive look at the many legal arguments that can be made for and against users of hyperlinks.

Brad Templeton, 10 Big Myths about copyright explained. "An attempt to answer common myths about copyright seen on the net and cover issues related to copyright and USENET/Internet publication."

Timothy J. Walton, Copyright for Webmasters. This article gives a basic description of copyright law, aimed at those who are involved in the production of Web sites.

Timothy J. Walton, Trademark Law for Webmasters Same as above, but focusing on trademark law and the Web.

Jeffrey R. Kuester and Peter A. Nieves, "What's all the hype about hyperlinking?": Short article advocating the activity of linking and asserting that it is "the essence of the Web". Also discusses key linking cases and the use of state common-law claims in the Internet context. Looks at the feasibility of applying state law to regulate Internet activities. Concludes by commenting on recent federal attempts to regulate the Internet through the now defunct Communications Decency Act (CDA).

Mary M. Luria, "Controlling Web Advertising: Spamming, Linking, Framing, and Privacy.": In-depth article, which focuses on "the delicate balance between protecting the rights of people and businesses and preserving the spirit of open communication that is the hallmark of the Web." Areas examined include spamming, linking, framing, and consumer privacy.

Matt Jackson, "Linking Copyright to Homepages.": Law review article discussing linking in detail as well as related doctrinal considerations. Provides background on constitutional basis and economic rationale for copyright law. Primer included on how the Internet works.

John M. Mrsich, Meeka Jun, "Terms You Need to Know: Search Engines.": Description of how search engines work; terms used; and distinctions among search engines, search directories, and search managers.

The Perkins Coie Internet Case Digest: excellent and diligently updated database of Internet case law.

The Link Controversy Page: A very comprehensive site providing links to articles and cases. Don't try to cover the whole site! Just skim it to get a sense of the debate.

Meta Tag Lawsuits: A concise overview of all meta tag cases and links to articles and other resources. Again, you shouldn't try to review the entire site, just skim the case overviews.

TotalNews, Publishers Settle Suit: CNET news bulletin announcing the TotalNews settlement.

Linking and Liability: Nice overview of the linking controversy. Begins by describing, in detail, the activity of linking. Then looks at the linking issue against the backdrop of current legal doctrine such as derivative-work rights under copyright law, the doctrine of 'passing off', defamation, and trademark infringement. Concludes by providing a summary of the Shetland News case.


The Washington Post Co., et al. V. TotalNews, Inc.,97 Civ. 1190 (S.D.N.Y., filed Feb. 2, 1997): Case settled June 5, 1997. No opinion was issued. You can see the Complaint or the text of the Settlement.

Futuredontics, Inc. v. Applied Anagramics, Inc., No. 97-56711, 1998 U.S. App. LEXIS 17012 (9th Cir. 07/23/98). Court denies preliminary injunction against AAI's use of a framed link to Futuredontics' web site. The denial was upheld on appeal. For more information see this article discussing the case.

Shetland Times Ltd. v. Dr. Jonathan Willis and ZetnewsLtd., Scotland Court of Sessions (Oct. 24, 1996): Case settled Nov. 1997; no opinion issued. Text of Settlement.

Ticketmaster Corp. v. Microsoft Corp. [CV 97-3055RAP] (C.D. Cal., filed April 28, 1997): Case settled; no opinion issued. Text of Complaint.

Bernstein v. J.C. Penney, Inc., No. 98-2958-R (CD CA, dismissal Sept. 22, 1998). Case dismissed. For a discussion of the case see this article.

Church of Scientology v. Dataweb et al, Case No. 96/1048 (Dist. Ct. of the Hague, Holland, June 9, 1999). Court found ISP liable for its customer's posting of infringing material on the Web. Liability was found because there was notice, which could not be reasonably doubted, of the poster's activities.

Oppedahl & Larson v. Advanced Concepts [Civil Action 97-3-1592 (D. Colo.) filed July 23, 1997]. You can see the permanent injunctions entered with respect to the various defendants, namely Welch and Advanced Concepts, and Professional Website Development, Internet Business Services.

Playboy Enterprises Inc. v. Calvin Designer Label [DCN Calif, No. C 97-3204; 9/8/97]. You can see the Complaint and the Preliminary Injunction Order. Playboy Enterprises, Inc. v. Welles No. 98-CV-0413-K (JFS) (S.D. Cal. Apr. 21, 1998). Case discussion on the New York Times Web page. Registration required. Full text of the Decision.

Playboy Enterprises, Inc. v. Welles No. 98-CV-0413-K (JFS) (S.D. Cal. Apr. 21, 1998). Full text of the Decision.

Niton Corp. v. Radiation Monitoring Devices, Inc, 27 F. Supp. 2d 102 (D. Mass. 11/18/98): Court granted preliminary injunction against defendant, barring it from using anything in its meta tags that would mislead visitors in a number of different ways.

SNA Inc. v. Array et al, No. CIV A 97-7158 (E.D. Pa., June 9, 1999). Enjoined defendant from using plaintiff's name in its meta tags

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