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Linking to Copyrighted Materials

If you publish your work online, you are already in the practice of using links to enhance your content. The Web's basic architecture relies heavily on the ability of webpages to link to other pages to allow natural navigation between related content. It is hard to imagine the smooth functioning (or even continued existence) of the Web without hypertext links that act as a reference system identifying and enabling quick access to other material. Fortunately, courts generally agree that linking to another website does not infringe the copyrights of that site, nor does it give rise to a likelihood of confusion necessary for a federal trademark infringement claim. However, different kinds of linking raise different legal issues, and the law is not entirely settled in all of these areas. Moreover, some linking activities may expose you to liability for contributory copyright infringement or trafficking in circumvention technology in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) .

Types of Links

Deep Linking: The most straightforward case is so-called "deep linking," which refers to placing a link on your site that leads to a particular page within another site (i.e., other than its homepage). No court has ever found that deep linking to another website constitutes copyright or trademark infringement. Therefore, you can link to other websites without serious concerns about legal liability for the link itself, with the exception of activities that might be contributory copyright infringement or trafficking in circumvention technology (discussed below).

Inline linking: Inline linking involves placing a line of HTML on your site that so that your webpage displays content directly from another site. We now commonly refer to this practice as embedding. For example, many bloggers embed videos from YouTube on their blogs to illustrate a point or initiate discussion. While there is some uncertainty on this point, a recent case from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that inline linking does not directly infringe copyright because no copy is made on the site providing the link; the link is just HTML code pointing to the image or other material. See Perfect 10, Inc. v. Google, Inc. , 508 F.3d 1146 (2007). Other courts may or may not follow this reasoning. However, the Ninth Circuit's decision is consistent with the majority of copyright linking cases which have found that linking, whether simple, deep, or inline, does not give rise to liability for copyright infringement. For discussion of these cases, see The Internet Law Treatise . In addition, merely using an inline link should not create trademark liability, unless you do something affirmative to create the impression that you are somehow affiliated with or endorsed by the site to which you are linking. Thus, embedding media in your online work should not expose you to legal liability, with the possible exceptions discussed below.

Framing: Framing refers to the practice of dividing a web page into multiple sections that use HTML code to pull content from different sources. The law should treat framing much like inline linking for purposes of copyright infringement (see discussion immediately above), but no case has considered the issue of framing in the context of copyright law. Framing potentially raises trademark problems. Depending on how you design your page, a user might be confused into believing that all of the source material is yours. Some plaintiffs have sued websites for framing under trademark and related areas of law, but most cases have settled and the law remains unclear.

Linking to Infringing Works

The situation changes when you knowingly link to works that clearly infringe somebody's copyright, like pirated music files or video clips of commercially distributed movies and music videos. In this situation, you might be liable for what is known as "contributory copyright infringement." Contributory copyright infringement occurs by "intentionally inducing or encouraging direct infringement" of a copyrighted work. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Inc. v. Grokster , Ltd, 545 U.S. 913, (2005). As long as you do not know that a work infringes someone's copyright, then you cannot be held liable for contributory infringement for directing users to that work. On the other hand, it is not necessarily safe to simply claim that you "didn't know" when the circumstances make it clear the material you link to is infringing. Use your common sense. Fred vonLohman gives the following rules of thumb to help avoid contributory copyright infringement (specifically with reference to embedding videos):"(1) don't embed videos that are obviously infringing, and (2) consider removing embedded videos once you've been notified by a copyright owner that they are infringing." Relatedly, you may be able to protect yourself against claims of contributory copyright infringement by complying with the notice-and-takedown procedures of the DMCA. For details, see Notice-and-Takedown .

Linking to Circumvention Technology Proscribed by the DMCA

Linking also raises legal issues in connection with the anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA . Section 1201 of the DMCA makes it illegal to traffic in technology that enables others to circumvent technological measures put in place by copyright holders to control access to or uses of their copyright work. 17 U.S.C. § 1201(a)(2), (b) . "Trafficking" means making, selling, giving away, or otherwise offering these devices or tools to the public. You can "traffic" in circumvention tools simply by posting them on your website or linking to other websites that host them. For example, in 1999 a Norwegian teenager created a software program called "DeCSS" that allowed users to circumvent CSS, the encryption technology used by movie studios to stop unlicensed playing and copying of commercially distributed DVDs. A number of websites posted the source and object code for DeCSS on the Internet, and other websites linked to them. The Second Circuit held that hosting and linking to the DeCSS code violated the DMCA's anti-trafficking provisions, and that this application of the DMCA did not violate the First Amendment. See Universal City Studios, Inc. v. Corley , 273 F.3d 429 (2d Cir. 2001). This decision is controversial, and it is not clear that other courts would necessarily follow its reasoning. For example, one court has held that linking itself is not enough, and liability requires some more direct tie between the offending websites, such as receiving compensation in exchange for linking. See Comcast v. Hightech Elecs., Inc. , 2004 WL 1718522 (N.D.Ill. July 29, 2004).

Given the uncertain state of the law, it is best not to knowingly link to sites hosting circumvention software. To be on the safe side, you should also remove user-generated content that links to such postings. This cautious approach may put websites that depend upon high levels of user interactivity in an uncomfortable position, as illustrated by the user "revolt" in May 2007 .

Jurisdiction:  United States Subject Area:  Copyright Linking ‹ Fair Use up Getting Permission to Use the Work of Others › Printer-friendly version TABLE OF CONTENTS Forming a Business and Getting Online Dealing with Legal Threats and Risks Newsgathering and Privacy Access to Government Information Intellectual Property Copyright What Copyright Covers Copyright Ownership Using the Work of Others Works Not Covered By Copyright Fair Use Linking to Copyrighted Materials Getting Permission to Use the Work of Others Circumventing Copyright Controls Copyright Infringement Copyright Claims Based on User Content Trademark Trade Secrets Risks Associated With Publication Unique Content: Special Risks Guides and Resources

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Digital Millennium Copyright Act Policy We respect the intellectual property rights of others just as we expect others to respect our rights. Pursuant to Digital Millennium Copyright Act, Title 17, United States Code, Section 512(c), a copyright owner or their agent may submit a takedown notice to us via our DMCA Agent listed below. As an internet service provider, we are entitled to claim immunity from said infringement claims pursuant to the “safe harbor” provisions of the DMCA. To submit a good faith infringement claim to us, you must submit notice to us that sets forth the following information:

Notice of Infringement – Claim

A physical or electronic signature of the copyright owner (or someone authorized to act on behalf of the owner);

Identification of the copyrighted work claimed to have been infringed;

Identification of the infringing material to be removed, and information reasonably sufficient to permit the service provider to locate the material. [Please submit the URL of the page in question to assist us in identifying the allegedly offending work];

Information reasonably sufficient to permit the service provider to contact the complaining party including your name, physical address, email address, phone number and fax number;

A statement that the complaining party has a good faith belief that the use of the material is unauthorized by the copyright agent; and

A statement that the information in the notification is accurate, and, under penalty of perjury, that the complaining party is authorized to act on behalf of the copyright owner.

Title 17 USC §512(f) provides civil damage penalties, including costs and attorney fees, against any person who knowingly and materially misrepresents certain information in a notification of infringement under 17 USC §512(c)(3).

Please note that we may share the identity and information in any copyright infringement claim we receive with the alleged infringer. In submitting a claim, you understand accept and agree that your identity and claim may be communicated to the alleged infringer.

Send all takedown notices to our DMCA Agent listed below. Please send by email for prompt attention.

DMCA Agent

Richard A. Chapo, Esq.

PO Box 373

Pine Valley, California 91962

(800) 966-1679

Counter Notification – Restoration of Material

If you have received a notice of material being takedown because of a copyright infringement claim, you may provide us with a counter notification in an effort to have the material in question restored to the site. Said notification must be given in writing to our DMCA Agent and must contain substantially the following elements pursuant to 17 USC Section 512(g)(3):

Your physical or electronic signature.

A description of the material that has been taken down and the original location of the material before it was taken down.

A statement under penalty of perjury that you have a good faith belief that the material was removed or disabled as a result of mistake or misidentification of the material to be removed or disabled.

Your name, address, and telephone number, and a statement that you consent to the jurisdiction of the federal district court for the judicial district in which the address is located (or if you are outside of the United States, that you consent to jurisdiction of any judicial district in which the service provider may be found), and that the you will accept service of process from the person or company who provided the original infringement notification.

Email your counter notice to our DMCA Agent:

Richard A. Chapo, Esq.

PO Box 373

Pine Valley, California 91962

(800) 966-1679

Repeat Infringer Policy

We take copyright infringement very seriously. Pursuant to the repeat infringer policy requirements of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, we maintain a list of DMCA notices from copyright holders and make a good faith effort to identify any repeat infringers. Those that violate our internal repeat infringer policy will have their accounts terminated.

Our Business Information

2715 W. Kettleman Lane Suite 203 #158

Lodi, CA 95242

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