Can someone be sued for linking to a web site?

Just wondering if there are ever any situations where someone could be sued for making a link to a web site. Crazy, off-the-wall situations welcome.

Sorry, just to clarify the question… I mean can someone get in trouble with the law (sued or arrested) for making some link on their web site.

I started wondering about this when I was thinking if someone gets into trouble for having certain content, they wouldn’t get into trouble for simply linking to the content. Is this true in all cases?

Was this a solicted link?

There have been some lawsuits. The issue is controversial. Here is a start,1283,51887,00.html

Check out the links at the bottom of the Wikipedia article, too.

Thanks, Gfactor, that was very interesting and quite a speedy response, I might add. Looks like you can be sued for just about anything these days. And it’s far more likely to happen to someone who is making a buck.

Yeah. There isn’t any solid caselaw on it yet. But if you are worried about being sued, it can happen.

People keep threatening the Portal of Evil with lawsuits for linking to them, but none of them ever seem to go through. It’s quite interesting to see there’s some (if anecdotal) evidence that it can happen…

Six years ago, the tech newspaper was sued by the DVD Copy Control Association for linking to the DeCSS source code, which could be used to decrypt the copy protection on a DVD to allow it to run on unsupported hardware (e.g. Linux). The Wikipedia article has some information and related links about that.

Amusingly, that led to the discovery of “illegal” prime numbers – prime numbers that, when decoded in a certain manner, translate into the source code of a legally prohibited program, such as DeCSS. I put illegal in quotes as this hasn’t been tested in courts, and to me is an amusing side effect of banning certain computer programs. Is may be possible that a strict reading of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act makes this prime number illegal to possess.

      • I am a bit lazy at the moment, but a few days back there was a tech news story about a guy in (I think) Austrailia, who got sued for having a webpage what contained links to where music could be illegally downloaded. He did not have the files at all on his web space, he just had hyperlinks to other sites where a few songs could be downloaded illegally. His ISP and the site that hosted the page had to pay as well. -----I saw it on Slashdot, but their native search seems to be down at the moment and I can’t seem to find it with Google… I’ll give it another try later…

What if I had a website with a whole list of links to illegal content, like child pornography or something?

There is an argument to be made that linking to a site that contains illegal copies of copyrighted material can be illegal under some circumstances.

And there is this,39024667,39128376,00.htm

You might also run afoul of statutes that criminalize distribution of child pornography, like this one:

I worked for a dot-com, since bought out, that was sued for sometimes “deep linking” to the content of other content providers. This company is/was (since bought out and content appearing under a different name) an online curriculum provider.

By “deep linking” I mean, instead of saying that “ (link to has cool info on pink bunnies,” we were linking to “What do pink bunnies eat? (link to” as our “What do pink bunnies eat?” content.

Sometimes it’s pretty easy to see where that line is (management crossed it anyway) and sometimes not.

We eventually had a sort of (purposefully IMO) half-assed permissions procedure in which the linkee would get an automated email that said “We’re linking to your content. Contact us if you don’t want that to happen.” So unless and until someone at specifically responded to that - and I think we were banking on a lot of those getting lost in the shuffle - we linked “with permission” using this method.

I that job quit before the lay-offs started…

Well crap, there is a!

Satire is so hard these days!