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Hyperlink & Search Engine Law News  Decisions & Court Documents Worldwide Legal Resources (Hyperlink & Search Engine Law Articles) Linking Law Cases Search Engine Law Publications by Dr. Stephan Ott Technical    Background

 Update 8: August 4, 2003


1. Linking criminal in Spain?

A judge in Madrid has ordered the site to be shut down by Tuesday, the 5th of August 2003. The site did not contain any downloadable files itself, only links to peer-to-peer file sharing networks. The links allowed users to download copyright protected files.

The creators of the page defended themselves, arguing that they did not distribute audio-visial works, but simply organized information. It were the users that feed the online forum with commentaries and links. They further said that they were not contacted prior to the procedure. Nobody told them that some of the connected pages or files were illicit. Spanish news source Kriptópolis spoke of an attack against the freedom of expression in Spain. Javier Maestre, the lawyer for the defense, said:"...It's the first time in Spain that the closing of a web page has been ordered based on the links it contains. It's surprising that they've declared the complete closure of a site for this motive, when the files and linked pages have not been declared illegal."

  • August 5, 2003: Rötzer, Florian, Spanische Forumswebsite geschlossen, Telepolis:
    "Wegen eines Links auf eine Download-Möglichkeit für eine urheberrechtlich geschützte Datei im Beitrag eines Forumsteilnehmers ordnete eine spanische Richterin die Schließung von Donkeymania an."

  •  August 4, 2003: Una juez de Madrid ordena el cierre de un sitio que proporcionaba enlaces a contenidos P2P, Libertad Digital:
    "Tras un final de julio protagonizado por la anunciada y no presentada demanda contra miles de usuarios de redes de pares, agosto comienza con una orden judicial de cierre cautelar de un site que contiene enlaces a sitios que permiten descargar archivos mediante programas de P2P."

  • August 4, 2003:  Una juez ordena el cierre de un sitio español que da enlaces a contenidos P2P, El Mundo:
    "Las batallas legales contra las redes P2P en España han generado una víctima, la página, cuya clausura cautelar fue dictada el viernes por la juez Carmen Sánchez-Albornoz Bernabé, titular del juzgado de instrucción número 3 de Madrid."

  • August 2,  Un juez español ordena el primer cierre de un sitio web de P2P, IBLNews:
    "Primera página web dedicada al P2P (Peer-to-peer, o intercambio de archivos) que se cierra en España, consumándose la amenaza de una demanda colectiva contra miles de usuarios, que pendía desde mediados de julio y adelantándose al plazo previsto de septiembre."

Additional information: Spain has a law that regulates the legal responsibilty for hyperlinks: Art. 17 LSSICE (Spain)


2. Kelly v. Arriba Soft: Welcome to the next round!

On February 6, 2002, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that that unauthorized inline linking to images residing on the copyright owner's website violates the copright owner's right of public display. The court rejected defendant's fair use defense: Inline Linking diminishes the oppurtunities of the copyright owner to sell or licence the images on his own website. If the court's conclusion would be applied to all hyperlinks, it could seriously interfere with internet use.

In July 2003, the court found that the district court should not have reached the issue because neither party moved for summary judgment as to the full-size images." So the lower court once again has to take a look at the issue of inline linking.

  • July 10, 2003: Thumbnail and framing ruling revised,
    "A US federal appeals court this week revised an earlier copyright ruling over a search engine that provided miniature images in search results, known as thumbnails, and linked to the original image framed within the search engine's own site."

  • July 8, 2003: Einbettung per Inline Link erlaubt?,
    "Der 9. U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals hat sich noch einmal den Fall Arriba Soft gegen Leslie Kelly vorgenommen."

  • July 8, 2003: Thumbnails OK, says court, Business Journal:
    "An Internet search engine did not break the law when it collected and distributed thumbnail images of copyrighted photos, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has ruled in another case involving the Internet and copyright law."

  • July 7, 2003: Olsen, Stefanie, Court backs thumbnail image linking, CNet:
    "Search engines' display of miniature images is fair use under copyright law, a federal appeals court ruled Monday, but the legality of presenting full-size renditions of visual works is yet to be determined."


3. Hypertags - A new technology

Hypertags are the new real-world equivalent of hyperlinks. Electronic tags are used to send links to mobile phones.

The company that invented hpertags (Hypertag Ltd.) describes them as "a new way of allowing you to access info and content on your mobile phone directly from objects like Adverts and Signs. It works by allowing infra-red mobile phones, and PDAs (e.g. Palm Pilots or Pocket PCs) to interact with a small electronic tag which is attached to the Advert or Sign. To use the system, you enable the infra-red port on your mobile phone and point it at the flashing lights. You wait a few seconds, and then a piece of content will be downloaded to your phone." The new technology had already been tested successfully at the Tate Modern museum in London and in The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.

  • July 11, 2003: Hypertags bringen Web auf die Straße, Computerwoche:
    "Hypertag heißt eine Technologie, die zurzeit Bürger und Besucher der britischen Hauptstadt testen können."

  • July 10, 2003: Sandhana, Lakshmi, Cell Phones, Billbords Play Tag, Wired:
    "The real-world equivalent of hyperlinks, the small battery-powered electronic tags use infrared signals to send Web links to mobile phones."

  • July 10, 2003: Hypertags: Clicking On The Physical World, Smart Mobs:
    "Point and click your mobile phone at a poster in London movie theaters this July and you'll be able to directly access the movie's Web page. Due to be launched in 20 cinemas in mid-July, the Hypertag technology will enable mobile-phone and PDA users one-click access to Web pages by pointing and clicking at advertising posters."

  • January 26, 2003: Mobiles reach out to the web, BBC News:
    "A Cambridge-based company has created cheap, smart tags that can beam website links to mobile phones to give people more information about the poster, advert or shop the marker is attached to."

  • April 4, 2003: The Future in the Palm of your Hand, museumscomputergroup:
    "The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge and Tate Modern on London's South Bank, have recently conducted pilot projects looking at the potential of delivering in-gallery information to visitors using handheld devices."


4. Hyperlinks & Law in China

There is not much information available about how China's internet law deals with hyperlinks. Computer World Hongkonk reports a case against ISP Soho: "The Court ducked the issue as to whether hyperlinks may constitute copyright infringement by simply holding that no law in China definitively provides that hyperlinks constitute copyright infringement." Another articles mentiones the case Liu Jinsheng v Sohu Aitexin Infor-Tech (Beijing) Co Ltd. The defendant was held liable for three hyperlinks to websites, that contained an anauthorized translation of Don Quixote.


New in Legal Resources:  

  • Knies, Bernhard, DeCSS - oder: Spiel mir das Lied vom Code, ZUM 2003, 286 ff.

  • Bechtold, Stefan, Der Schutz des Anbieters von Information - Urheberrecht und Gewerblicher Rechtsschutz im Internet, ZUM 1997, 427 ff. 

  • Hörnle, Tatjana, Pornographische Schriften im Internet: Die Verbotsnormen im deutschen Strafrecht und ihre Reichweite, NJW 2002, 1008 ff.

  • Heidrich, Jörg, Anmerkung zu LG Düsseldorf vom, MMR 1998, 671 ff.

  • Köster, Oliver / Jürgens, Uwe, Haftung professioneller Informationsvermittler im Internet, MMR 2002, 420 ff.

  • Web Site's Inline Link to Copyrightes Image Not Fair Use, Infringed Public Display, Electronic Commerce & Law 2002, 138

  • German Court Declines to Disturb Ruling That Search Engine's Link Violated Database Law, Electronic Commerce & Law 2002, 776

  • Court Finds "No Unfairness" in Disclosing Forum Selection Clause Via Internet Hyperlink, Electronic Commerce & Law 2003, 614

  • ISPs, HTML, Internet Hyperlinking Do Not As a Matter of Law, Infringe on BT Patent, Electronic Commerce & Law 2002, 904

  • Arriba Soft Case Called Most Important Statement in 2002 on Performance Rights, Electronic Commerce & Law 2003, 278

  • "Something More" Than Accessibility, E-Mail Link Needed to Get Out-of-State Jurisdiction, Electronic Commerce & Law 2002, 1017

  • Summary and Comment to Norwegean First Instance Court: The DVD Case against Jon Johansen, CRI 2003, 50 ff.

  • Schmidbauer, Franz, Die Zulässigkeit des Linkens aus urheberrechtlicher und wettbewerbsrechtlicher Sicht, JurPC Web-Dok. 176/2003


New in Technical Background:  


New in Decisions:  

Hyperlink to contractual terms 

California state appeals court held that a consumer contract containing a forum selection clause is not unenforceable merely         

because of the fact that the forum selection clause is disclosed to consumers via an internet hyperlink. The court said: "We perceive 

no unfairness in Net2Phone's requirement that certain contractual terms must be accessed via hyperlink, a common practice and 

Internet business.


Copyright Law, Search Engine, Thumbnails, Inline-Links

For more information on this lawsuit, click here!


Bad Faith Registration, Trademark Law

According to a ruling of the World Intellectual Property Organization's Arbitration and Mediation Center, the plan to provide hyperlinks to commercial websites is an indication of bad faith registration and use of an as yet passively held domain name that otherwise was intended for non commercial purposes. 

  • OLG Köln, Decision of October 4, 2002 – 6 U 64/02, K&R 2003, 193 

Trademark Law

Die Bezeichnung eines Links "Anwalt Suchservice" ist eine rein beschreibende Angabe einer Dienstleistung und erfüllt daher nicht den Verletzungstatbestand des § 14 II 2 MarkG. 


  • Accuweather Inc. v. Total Weather Inc. , Decision of October 2, 2002

    Out-of-State Jurisdiction 

    The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania ruled that the maintenance of a website accessible to forum state residents that included a link for sending e-mail without "something more" to establish minimum contacts was insufficient under the due process clause for a court in the forum states to exercise personal jurisdiction over the webmaster.


  • EF Cultural Travel BV, et al. v. Zefer Corporation, Decision of January 28, 2003,

Hyperlink to terms of use of a website

Instead, we think that the public website provider can easily spell out explicitly what is forbidden and, consonantly, that nothing justifies putting users at the mercy of a highly imprecise, litigation-spawning standard like "reasonable expectations." If EF wants to ban scrapers, let it say so on the webpage or a link clearly marked as containing restrictions.


New in Linking Cases:  





The Links & Law website is updated regularily, so  check back for updated information and resources about search engine and linking issues.

You are currently in the archive with older news. A complete list of the updates can be found here!

Latest News - Update 71

Legal trouble for YouTube in Germany

Germany: Employer may google job applicant

EU: Consultation on the E-Commerce-Directive

WIPO Paper on tradmarks and the internet

The ECJ and the AdWords Cases



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