Can hyperlinks be outlawed?

This Story from Salon.com is raising a terrifying possiblity.

\"Can hyperlinks be outlawed? Only last week, a California judge ruled, in a case brought by Ticketmaster against Tickets.com, that it\'s not illegal for one site to link to another. Among other things, that suit concerned \"deep linking.\" Ticketmaster alleged that by bypassing its home page and linking directly to \"inside\" pages, Tickets.com violated its copyright. The judge, however, held that \"hyperlinking does not in itself involve a violation of the Copyright Act.\"

The MPAA motion is focused on a different aspect of linking -- whether it\'s legal to link to information that a judge has ruled is illegal to post -- but the Ticketmaster vs. Tickets.com case may still lend some legal precedent. Daniel Harris, the attorney who argued for Tickets.com\'s practice of linking to pages deep within Ticketmaster\'s site, says the case should indeed be considered a precedent in New York\'s federal district court, where the DeCSS case sits.

\"The Internet\'s exponential growth is due in part and parcel to the access to linked information,\" says Harris, a partner at the Palo Alto, Calif., firm Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison. \"Once you start applying the ability to police where links go, then it\'s going to have major negative ramifications on how the Internet will grow in the future.\"

Of course, the MPAA says its only concern is with the DeCSS case, not linking policies in general. \"There is certain hyperlinking that is clearly legal and others that aren\'t,\" says Litvack, adding that links to DeCSS are like links to child pornography, which \"no one would want to proliferate, even if it\'s linked and not simply posted.\"

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