Post Co. v. Total News, No. 97 Civ. 1190 (PKL) (S.D.N.Y. complaint
filed Feb. 20, 1997)
Total News framed content of several news sites, including sites belonging
to the Post, Time, and CNN. The news organizations alleged various unfair
competition and trademark causes of action, as well as copyright infringement.
To settle the
case, Total News agreed to link to the news organization's sites, rather
than frame them.
Times Ltd. v. Wills, Scot Sess Cas, No. - -, 10/24/96
Trade press account of first case to address linking. Given absence of
US law at the time, case received close attention from US observers, despite
emanating from Scotland. Case
on a cooperative note.
Corp. v. Microsoft Corp., No. 97-3055 DDP (C.D. CA, complaint,
First major linking case in US. Microsoft's "Sidewalk" site
allowed visitors to buy tickets to entertainment events via "deep"
link to Ticketmaster site. Ticketmaster alleged trademark dilution and
other unfair competition causes of action. Case settled
on undisclosed terms, although Microsoft removed its deep link.
v. J.C. Penney, Inc., No. 98-2958-R (C.D. CA, dismissal Sept. 22,
Early US linking case. Swedish website displayed plaintiff's photographs
of Liz Taylor without permission. Vendor of perfume associated
with Taylor linked to photographs. Plaintiff alleged copyright infringement;
court dismissed case without comment.
Reserve, Inc. v. Utah Lighthouse Ministry, Inc., No. 2:99-CV-808C.
(D. Utah Dec. 6, 1999)
Defendant, subject to injunction against publishing plaintiff's copyrighted
work, exhorted visitors to read same work unlawfully published on other
sites, and provided links to those sites. Court held defendant liable
for contributory copyright infringement. To reach result, court found
that visitors to the other sites "copied" the work when their
computer's cached it automatically.
Corp. v. Tickets.com, Inc., CV99-7654 HLH (BQRx) (C.D. CA,
Mar. 27, 2000) [requires acrobat
reader to view]
Tickets.com deep linked to Ticketmaster's site to provide its visitors
the opportunity to buy tickets to certain events. Court dismissed contention
that linking constituted copyright violation, because there was no literal
copying. Court also found that absent specific evidence of assent, allegation
that defendant breached site's "terms of service" failed to
state a claim. Literal copying claim and certain unfair competition claims
not dismissed, however.
City Studios, Inc. v. Reimerdes, 00 Civ. 0277 (LAK) (S.D.N.Y. Aug.
17, 2000) [requires
reader to view]
Defendants were subject to a preliminary injunction against distributing
software that enabled copying of movies stored on DVDs. As in Intellectual
Reserve, they then provided links to other sites offering the software,
and urged visitors to download the software there. Again, as in Intellectual
Reserve, the court held linking plus encouragement to be unlawful
(here under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which prohibits circumvention
of electronic copyright protections). So long as linking liability requires
clear and convincing evidence of a "forbidden purpose," the
court wrote, it will not impermissibly chill speech on the internet.