eb Legalities: Linking

Dec 7 22:00 2001 Richard Lowe Print This Article

A link is the address of a web page which is ... on a page ... you to jump to the new web page. One of the great things about HTMLand the world wide web is this ability to link sites to

A link is the address of a web page which is maintained on a page which
allows you to jump to the new web page. One of the great things about HTML
and the world wide web is this ability to link sites together. This results
in the internet truly becoming a web,Guest Posting and the benefits to the surfer are

It is normal for virtually every site on the web to maintain a list of links
to "favorite", "featured" or "special" places to visit. This is almost never
done with permission, nor does it need to be.

Remember that we are discussing linking to pages on other web sites, not
graphics, zip files, sound files or anything else. Only HTML-style pages are
acceptable for cross-linking. Linking to other types of media files is
called bandwidth stealing and is highly unethical. Also remember, do not
link to other people's CGI routines without permission.

There is some concern over the acceptableness of this linking behavior. Some
commercial sites are not happy with linking because it bypasses their "home
page" or sidesteps their advertising. There is even some discussion that
linking is a trademark infringement or violates some other sacred rights.

This is all silly talk by people and organizations who completely
misunderstand the nature of the world wide web. The best practice of
everyone creating a site is to complete ignore this asinine discussion
totally and to link vigorously and constantly.

In my opinion the best way to think of linking is to associate it with the
"fair use" laws. These are the laws which allow people to include short
quotes from published and copyrighted works in their own materials. This is
not illegal or unethical - in fact it is absolutely necessary. Imagine how
difficult it would be for a college student to write a term paper if he
could not quote authors, or how impossible it would be for a critic to do
his job if he could not include a few lines from the work he was writing

Fair use is something that comes under attack by dimwits sometimes. It is
essential that we, the people, constantly use the fair use laws, as if they
become unused then they will become illegal. We must defend our rights to
quote and "borrow" snippets from other sources.

Note, however, you should follow some guidelines when linking.

- Keep your links simple. Fair use allows small quotes, and as long as you
keep things short you should be fine. If you start including complex
graphics or long passages of text then you are putting yourself at risk as
well as possibly plagiarizing.

- Get permission where possible or feasible. This can work to your
advantage, as you can do a "link exchange" which has many uses (more links
to your site means a higher popularity by search engines).

- Include a section of your own which explains to your visitors that you
have no control over external links You think they might be of interest, but
you don't have any responsibility for their content.

- Again, only link to HTML and text style pages. Do not link to multimedia
files (images, sounds and videos).

- Also, remember to not link to CGI routines (and other executable objects)
without permission.

When you are designing your own site, it's a great idea to be sure that you
understand that people will be bookmarking and linking to any and every page
that you've got. Search engines also are notorious for sending visitors
willy-nilly to whatever page they believe fits a search topic. Thus, your
navigation and overall design must allow visitors to move around freely on
your site regardless of which page they land upon.

The bottom line is simple. People can link to any page they want to within
your site (just as they can bookmark anything at will). Those webmasters who
moan about this practice or make attempts to stop it are wasting their time
and have little understanding of how the internet really works. Those who
plan their website around the concept will create a better experience for
their visitors, gain more traffic and thus better achieve their goals.

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Richard Lowe
Richard Lowe

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