Linking Down the Rabbit Hole

Deep Linking Takes Another Blow, Wired – “Using a search engine to locate stories on newspapers’ sites violates European Union Database Directive law, according to a recent ruling by judges in Munich’s Upper Court.” [LLRX Newstand]

For the life of me, I cannot understand how a rational court can find a hyperlink to be anything but a pointer. Are phone books illegal because they publish phone numbers which permit you to directly contact an individual? What about neighborhood directories that publish addresses of local businesses and gasp directions?

C’mon. I tell you how to find something. Doesn’t mean I’m taking credit for the destination. And besides – where’s the freakin’ harm? I tell someone how to find your information by guiding them to your site, which just happens to be under your control. I helped you, fer godsakes. (Note that I’m not addressing sites that frame others’ content, or otherwise try to misrepresent the source. I’m speaking to sites that simply link people directly to content provided on the web.)

One last point, then I’ll shut up. Whatever happened to the courts looking for the narrowest restriction? Rather than outright prohibitions on linking, what about endorsing technical limitations that can prevent any undesirable actions? I can prohibit sites from linking to my content, I can redirect visitors who hit my site, I can do whatever I want. It doesn’t take much.

This is beyond nuts. I know Ernie and Denise have posted numerous items about this issue in the past… are you guys as depressed as I am?

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