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Thursday, June 20, 2002

Legality; Law

Wired News reports NPR's response concerning its linking form and policy. In the article, NPR ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin talks about links from commercial versus noncommercial sites, and NPR's reluctance to "give support to advocacy groups." ["Public Protests NPR Link Policy," via GrepLaw; see Slashdot] What Dvorkin does not address is whether the policy isn't enforceable because linking isn't unlawful. On this point, Wired's Farhad Manjoo references Central District of California Judge Harry Hupp's reasoning in March and August, 2000 orders from the Ticketmaster v. case. [Orders via GigaLaw] While the article says these orders dealt "linking policies" "a serious blow," that characterization overstates things because this language never made it into a published opinion. Thus, while the orders may be right, they're not law. It's not unusual for reporters to miss or downplay the distinction. What it means in the real world is if you cited the orders to NPR or anyone else with a similar linking policy, they could simply say "so what?" Linking cases need to be litigated to conclusion and tested on appeal in order for multi-jurisdictional precedent to develop. Informing your elected representatives of your views couldn't hurt either. (Unless you hate the idea of legislating the Internet. In which case we're back to the courts.)

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