Permission to link: the theory that won’t die

by Walter Olson on January 8, 2013

Now it’s newspapers in Ireland advancing the old, curious claim that online publishers have a right to order others not to link to their content. [McGarr Solicitors, earlier]

{ 5 comments }

1 Turk 01.08.13 at 10:44 am

Demanding others obtain permission to link is, of course, a brilliant ploy to get links.

So long as you don’t care what people write about you.

2 Suzanne Lucas--Evil HR Lady 01.08.13 at 10:50 am

I got a rather, umm, psychotic email from a physician whose blog I had linked to. She was sooooo upset that I had linked to her, and further more, that Reddit had picked up her post based on my link (although, my article didn’t go viral, as hers did, boo).

I honestly do not understand why you put something on the internet and then get angry that people read it and *gasp!* respond to it.

When I pointed out that what I had done was not illegal, she backed off. But then she wrote an entire blog post detailing how AWFUL I was for LINKING to her public blog.

Whacks.

p.s. Feel free to link to my blog any time you want!

3 Anonymous Nicholas 01.08.13 at 12:34 pm

This lawsuit is obviously brought by people who have no understanding of HTTP headers. Allow me to settle this whole lawsuit in two lines of code:

if(HTTPHeaders.get("referer").getSite() != baseSiteOfThisNewspaper)
httpRedirect("deniedAccessPage.html");

This is similar to how some American newspapers tried to sue Google to get Google to stop indexing their news stories. Google’s response was, what, you’ve never heard of robots.txt?

Those two measures preclude the necessity for a lawsuit but even if they didn’t the lawsuit would still be a loser because a link is not the same as copying the article, and I hardly think you could copyright a URL (which I think is the current claim).

4 wfjag 01.08.13 at 10:33 pm

@ Devine Ms. “Evil”:
“I got a rather, umm, psychotic email from a physician whose blog I had linked to. She was sooooo upset that I had linked to her, and further more, that Reddit had picked up her post based on my link (although, my article didn’t go viral, as hers did, boo). ”

I take it that the lady Doctor has never hear of the “Streisand Effect”. Or as I tell my kids — if you don’t want people reading your on-line postings, don’t put the damn things there in the first place. The world is filled with people who have no sense of humor, less imagination, and who are rigid in their biases. However, over life, some of them will be in a position to grant or deny you something you seek. Most things that will send them through the roof are on subjects on which they have no business knowing your thoughts and opinions. However, once it is on-line, it exists forever, and the best you can then do is to make it hard to find. So, keep it to yourself (or, certainly, don’t post it on-line), unless it is reasonably laudatory or says something nice about someone else.

(Yes, I know that I frequently violate this principle. But, when you get to a certain age and station, you no longer have to worry as much about obtaining benefits for yourself, and people expect a certain amount of crankiness or you’re thought possibly “odd” in a bad sort of way.)

5 Suzanne Lucas--Evil HR Lady 01.09.13 at 1:41 am

@wfjag, Exactly. If you don’t want everyone to read it, don’t post it on the internet–not even on your locked down Facebook page. Those 300 friends you have? Not all of them are looking out after your best interest.

And I still don’t get the aversion to links at all. I get paid by the hit. Anytime anyone links to me, they bring in hits. Hits=money. Money=chocolate. Why wouldn’t I want links?

Now, people who steal entire articles? They are of the devil.

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