Framing, Linking, and Metatags:Variation One -- Framing

Sharon has created links in her homepage that enable visitors to hersite to gain access to material on related travel sites. For instance, ifa traveler wants to purchase luggage for an upcoming vacation, she canclick on a link on Sharon's web page that calls up the website for IrontightLuggage within a frame on the screen. The traveler can view the informationon these linked sites without first having to leave Sharon's site and thenreturn by pressing the "back" key. This is a major convenienceto visitors to Sharon's site, but Irontight is upset. When Irontight's web page is displayed within Sharon's frame, advertisingbanners on Irontight's web page are obscured by banners of Sharon's advertisers. Irontight's advertisershave paid for the privilege of advertising on Irontight's site becausethey feel that Irontight customers will also be interested in their ownproducts and services. Sharon's framing enables people to view Irontight'ssite without seeing this advertising information, and indeed may directviewers to the advertisers' competitors. Additionally, the framing allows visitors to stay at Sharon's site and view Irontight's information, rather than "jumping" to Irontight's own site. Irontight alleges that this isunfair competition. Sharon believes that she is just providing a convenienceto her customers that adds value to her service.

In deciding whether Sharon is or should be vulnerable to suit by Irontight,you may find it helpful to sample the resources set forth below.  Then,if you are interested in discussing the issues raised by this problem andthe associated materials, go to the virtual classroom.


MichelleSpaulding, "Misappropriation" (1998). One of the doctrinesthat has been invoked by the litigants in cases of this sort is the lawof "misappropriation." If you are unfamiliar with this body oflaw and would like a brief introduction, click here.

Copyright Basics: Links to primers and other basic information on U.S. copyright law. If you are unfamiliar with this body of law and would like a brief introduction, click here.

Martin J.Elgison and James M. Jordan III, "TrademarkCases Arise from Meta-Tags, Frames. Disputes Involve Search-Engine Indexes,Web Sites Within Web Sites, As Well As Hyperlinking.": Short article with brief summaries of cases and issues. Framing: Washington Post v. TotalNews. Linking: Shetland Times, Ticketmaster v. Microsoft. Metatags: Nat'l Envirotech v. Insituform Technologies, Playboy Enters. v. Calvin Designer Label, Oppedahl & Larson v. Advanced Concepts.

Mary M. Luria, "ControllingWeb Advertising: Spamming, Linking, Framing, and Privacy.": More in-depth article covering many topics related to advertising on the Web. Gives examples, explanations, and discusses legal doctrine.


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, but the resources above and links below discuss the case and offer further information.


For a demonstration of how framing works, follow this link -- First press the NPR link (NPR didn't file suit and agreed to let TotalNews continue framing their material). Then press the CNN Interactive link (CNN was a party to the suit). Note the difference.

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

Unauthorized Linking Prohibited in Framing Suit Settlement: Short article discussing the settlement. Also provides links to other useful information.

Terms of TotalNews settlement


Variation Two: Linking

Variation Three: Metatags

Review problem

Virtual Classroom