The need for a “Freedom to Link” Act

In a letter to a consultant in Britain who runs a personal website that has not been especially nice to KPMG, the company said it had discovered a link on his site to http://www.kpmg.com, and that the website owner, Chris Raettig, should “please be aware such links require that a formal Agreement exist between our two parties, as mandated by our organization’s Web Link Policy.”…Raettig is one of those digital-age 22-year-olds who know the Web inside out, and he’s aware when he’s being flimflammed. So he penned a nice no-thanks letter back to the company, saying that “my own organization’s Web link policy requires no such formal agreement.” Raettig also stated the obvious big problem with KPMG’s policy: “If every hyperlink used on the Web required parties at both sides of the link to enter into a formal agreement, I sincerely doubt that the Web would be in existence today.”

Read Big Stink Over a Simple Link from WIRED (circa 2001)

Several recent court decisions are, in my view, threatening the generally accepted notion that the Internet thrives on a “free to link” privilege between any two sites. As rabid as some content creators, their lawyers and agents are, I fear that we may be headed into an era where these rights are challenged. Challenged to a point where some content creators will demand paid licenses just to link to their content.

More from ZDNet’s Rusell Shaw

The World Wide Web’s killer application is the ability to move from one Web site to another via a hyperlink. Without linking there would be no Web. Some organisations want to control the way users experience their sites by dictating how they are linked to. Dave Amis argues for the freedom to link.

More from NetFreedom.org (circa 1999)

Related: Judge: Can’t link to Webcast if copyright owner objects from C|Net

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Filed under A democratic medium?, Digital Commons, Fair Use, Regulation, The Politics of New Media, When New Meets Old

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