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[FYI] (Fwd) FC: News web sites try to charge for links to articles

------- Forwarded message follows -------
Date sent:      	Thu, 28 Dec 2000 08:38:42 -0500
To:             	politech@politechbot.com
From:           	Declan McCullagh <declan@well.com>
Subject:        	FC: News web sites try to charge for links to articles
Send reply to:  	declan@well.com


    Free Links, Only $50 Apiece
    by Declan McCullagh (declan@wired.com)
    2:00 a.m. Dec. 28, 2000 PST

    WASHINGTON -- Online news sites are turning to a novel way to make
    some extra cash: requiring fees for links.

    The Albuquerque Journal charges $50 for the right to link to each
    of its articles. Localbusiness.com and Latino.com are more
    generous, and permit one to five links without payment.

    There's just one catch. Legal experts say no U.S. law or court
    decision allows a website to successfully demand payment for links
    to its content. Such linking is a common practice online and
    allows services like search engines to exist.

    "They have no right to use the legal system to stop the linking,"
    says Eugene Volokh, a professor of law at UCLA. "But if sites
    really want to stop linking, they can easily do it by
    technological means, by periodically shifting the file names of
    their pages, by delivering the pages using CGI scripts rather than
    direct links, or by including HTML code that checks the address of
    the site from which the user arrived."

    The sites that limit unapproved linking rely on a service provided
    by Renton, Washington, startup iCopyright.com. In exchange for a
    portion of the licensing revenues, customarily less than 50
    percent, icopyright.com handles collecting payment for article
    reprints, photocopy licenses or links.

    Nobody questions a publisher's legal right to demand payments for
    article reprints, at least for substantial quantities. But
    iCopyright's license agreement, which is featured at the bottom of
    articles at its partners' sites, says the company can selectively
    grant or withhold "HTML Link permission (that) allows you to link
    to a specified Web page."

    The iCopyright.com license agreement also restricts what can be
    said about the content of the linked-to article. If you sign up to
    pay $50 to link to, say, an Albuquerque Journal article, you agree
    not to say anything "derogatory" about "the author, the
    publication from which the content came, or any person connected
    with the creation of the content or depicted in the content."

    Because the agreement limits negative comments about someone
    "depicted" in a news story, someone linking to an article about
    President-elect George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore would
    not be permitted to criticize either one.

    Paula Tobol, iCopyright.com's senior marketing manager, defended
    the company's license agreements. "The license is to guarantee the
    link and give you peace of mind that it will stay available for a
    specified period of time," Tobol said in e-mail to Wired News.
    "Currently, the legal issue of linking is somewhat unclear."


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