Monday, December 12, 2005

Lee-gal-ih-tay!

This site does not allow links "without the[ir] express written permission". Little wonder the site is for a law firm specializing in patents and trademarks. Let's not get into that whole "intellectual property" discussion.

The following little legal and intellectual twist (again, thanks to Wiki'p) suggests that we think about hyperlinks in a different way:
In some jurisdictions it is or was (for example the Netherlands, see Karin Spaink) held that hyperlinks are not merely references or citations, but are devices for copying web pages. Although this principle is generally rejected by digerati, the courts that adhere to it see the mere publication of a hyperlink that connects to illegal material to be an illegal act in itself, regardless of whether referencing illegal material is illegal.
Instead of "copying", let's say "publishing". Every time you click on one of those little blue nodes, aren't you in fact publishing a webpage? Without getting all if-a-tree-falls-in-the-forest, isn't it safe to say that loading a page on your web browser is siginifcantly closer to "publishing" than uploading the content to your server. Does the page "exist" before it is displayed on screen, or is this just the difference between a book - both open and shut? Keep in mind that any given page may look or act differently depending on your browser-of-choice.

And what about that second part? What is it about the "publication of a hyperlink" that makes linking to illegal material somehow more nefarious than making reference to that material?

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