[thelist] FYI: European case of: "copyrights and linking"

Chris Prior public at prior-I.De
Tue Apr 2 14:22:01 CST 2002

Contains: A finally longer attempt to _summarize_ a german-
austrian-swiss 'hyperlink' case.
Core: Unsettled legal situation on
a) deep links b) technical viewpoints c) high bills -> webmasters
Intended as an european example for "copyrights and linking".
713 words.

Hello list!

(It's my first post here, I am since two years 'just-interested-

Over here in Europe we have currently a discussion about the
company "Meteodata" producing weather maps and billing
webmasters for unwanted _links_ to their page.
Various forms of links have been reportedly billed:

 - deep links via pop ups with no navigation but
   containing logo + links to their main page

 - image-pinching (no discussion here...)

 - and simple deep links via target="_blank" (mentioned, but
   never properly documented - probably just goofy cases.
   Meteodata says they are _not_ after those kind of links.

The amounts billed vary between the equivalent of 500 USD and
10000+ USD. Reductions are reported to be send out unrequested.

Their webpage uses frames and their proper content-partners just
deep-link, too. No other means of streaming their data seems to
be provided. Look at their page and judge the technical
situation yourself...

The company 'meteodata.at' has been under _heavy_ fire for being
quoted with "The times where one could link back and forth are
over" - which raised the whidespread discussion.
The company is the first one in Austria of its kind which is
privately owned and into business from 1995, I believe.

 * Core justification are the companies terms of business
   saying sth. literally like
   > links only after written approval
   > links only into a browser window with navigation and banner.
   These terms are available via their webpage, were updated /
   claryfied during the past weeks.
 * A written confirmation was questioned for "tracing the
   spreaded advertising", so the company.

The heated discussion partly deals with the fact that they do
send out bills but do not claim damages at first, partly if the
"written approval" clause was 'internet-correct'.

The bills are for past months / year(s) and do not include
logfile analysis but screenshots. The company intends to do log
checks if the bill gets refused - against a reasonable amount of
charge, report the recipients.
~ So deep links are considered to be kind of a consent of
~ business connections - therefore a bill and no damage claim.

That's where the critic mainly starts and where some people
suspect kinda 'expansion of the core business', to put it mildly.
Plus the search engine situation (no exclusion of robots here!)
plus the lack of technical prevention of deep links.

Information politics and wording from all sides (the company
itself, 'official' advisors and lawyers -wheather self-styled or
not I can't judge- were not always consistent: Varying usage of
"links / all links / deep links" added some spice...

Being of entrepreneurial spirit I fully understand the need to
protect ones product. Nevertheless will we see leading cases
about linking in general. This might clarify -over here- how to
deal with unwanted (deep) links, too:
 - Send out a bill?
 - Claim damage?
 - Correctness to back-trace logs?
 - And: Is deep-linkable content _as_a_link_ in the "public
   domain"? [sorry, can't find a better description here -
   sure the lawyers will! ;-) ]

The company meteodata.at claims to have gained over 160 new
customers due to the PR.

Hope this is in some way of interest, I tried to be as precise
as possible. Final point is: Let's wait what the courts decide -
and how their perception of a hyperlink looks like. Looking
forward to that!

BTW: People still are aware of a looong list of damage claims
against companies _and_ indivuduals using the name of the
"(Windows) ******** " (the filemanager!) which second name part
is a registered trademark in Germany for the behalf of a private
person. Opposing parties include the german distributor of Linux
(SuSE) - settlement out of court.
So this is commonly considered to be a parallel case -
"computer", "money to pay" and so on...

Rounding off:
Some -german- content:

The main discussion forum including statemants of the CEO:

The leading web-publishers magazine Dr. Web in its newsletter:

A report on the german ZDNET pages:

The next post will be short, I promise! ;-)
If anybody still reads this...

Best regards from Berlin,

Chris Prior mailto:public at prioR-I.De
http://www.radoo.de - the german cycle link directory
Knobelsdorffstr. 33 ~ D-14059 Berlin

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