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

Sharon thought it would be a great idea if her customers could makeall of their travel-related arrangements and purchases during one visitto her site. To that end, she has provided links on her site to informationposted on other sites. For example, a customer who needs someone to takecare of her pet while she's away on vacation can click on a picture ofa dog on Sharon's site and get information from a site offering pet-sittingservices. Similarly, the customer could select her travel destination froma map provided by Sharon, then click on a picture of food and receive restaurantreviews from the website of a newspaper in that area. Sharon has provideddozens of these links, offering access to weather reports, entertainmentreviews, public transportation schedules -- everything a traveler wouldwant to know about her destination.

Two of the companies to whom Sharon has linked have threatened to filesuit if she does not disable the links. One of them is While the Cat'sAway (WCA), a major pet-sitting service with franchises in most major cities.They claim that Sharon's link to their site is unfair competition. BecauseSharon's links are geared to specific geographical areas, the customergoes directly to the page on WCA's site representing that area, bypassingWCA's home page. WCA sees this use of "deep links" as a problem,because most of their banner ads are on the home page. Banner ads are theprimary source of revenue for the WCA site, and they fear that if the practiceof deep linking were to continue, advertisers would be less likely to paymoney because they could not be sure their ads would be seen.

The other problem comes from The Tahoe Monitor, a weekly newspaper inLake Tahoe, California. Tahoe's publishers claim that Sharon's link totheir restaurant reviews violates their copyright in the articles becauseshe is, in effect, reproducing their copyrighted work. Sharon argues thatshe is doing no more than giving her customers the means to gain accessinformation that Tahoe has already voluntarily posted on the Web for anyoneto read.

In deciding whether Sharon is or should be vulnerable to suit by WCAor the Tahoe Monitor, you may find it helpful to sample the resources setforth below.  Then, if you are interested in discussing the issuesraised by this problem and the 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.

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

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.

"ScottishCourt Orders Online Newspaper to Remove Links to Competitor's Website.": Brief piece discussing settlement of Shetland Times v. Shetland News case.

"ShetlandIslands Linking Lawsuit Settled.": Discussing settlement of case

"Microsoft'sLink to Ticketmaster Site Spurs Trademark Lawsuit.": Short piece discussing origins of Ticketmaster v. Microsoft case and legal issues involved

"AltaVista Cannot Use Its Name on Products or Services, MA Judge Says.": Discusses a linking case involving the search engine Alta Vista and Alta Vista Technology, a software development company unrelated to the search engine

"Computingand the Net: Shetland showdown Duncan Campbell on a good day in court forthe Web." Duncan Campbell: Editorial criticizing Shetland News

"Floatingpoints: Feedback: Tale of two halves." Jonathan Wills: Response by Shetland News' operator to previous editorial.


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

Ticketmaster Corp. v. Microsoft Corp. [CV 97-3055RAP] (C.D. Cal., filed April 28, 1997): Case settled; no opinion issued. See articles and links for information.


Hypertext Linking Called into Question: Brief discussion of Ticketmaster case. Also provides links to the complaint, Microsoft's Answer, and Ticketmaster's Reply

Brad Templeton's thoughts on liability for linking and framing

Dilbert Hack Pages: linking to images

TotalNews, Publishers Settle Suit:Short article reviewing framing issues and brief mention of Ticketmaster case. Provides useful links to other information


Variation One: Framing

Variation Three: Metatags


Review problem

Virtual Classroom