Links & Law - Information about legal aspects of search engines, linking and framing

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Linking Policies - Permission or Fee for Linking?

Krak - Better Business Bureau - NPR - KPMG - Fees for Links - Don't Link To Us - Olympic Games - Fast Company



Not every company loves links. Linking policies that request permission for a simple link become more and more popular, challenging the freedom to link to any site you want.

Some companies contacted webmaster and requested the removal of links. News articles deal with the linking policies from the Better Business Bureau, KPMG and NPR. NPR’s linking policy once stated: “Linking to or framing of any material on this site without the prior written consent of NPR is prohibited. Please use this form to request permission to link to and its related sites.”



Krak, a  mapping company in Denmark enables users to input a company name, address, telephone number etc and the service brings you up a map with a little dot showing where on the map this address is. Their terms and conditions state that they will charge money for links to one of their map pages without permission. Following stories on Digg’s front page the company changed its terms and they no longer charge a blogger for linking to a map, as long as they are not for profit, and providing they ask permission first.

There is also a court case underway between Gauguin (an auctioneer house) and As O'Flaherty, the person who has covering this the most (in the English Language at puts it, "if Krak win this court case then it will be legal for any company to hide a linking policy away deep on their site and then hand out bills for any amount of money they want."


 Better Business Bureau

CBBB Terms & Conditions Of Web Site Use



  • July 8, 2002: Janssen, Mike, No linking to NPR? No way!, Current Online:
    "After outraging many webheads with an effort to tame the Internet, NPR has backed away from a policy restricting links to its website."
  • July 1, 2002: “Link-Affäre” beim öffentlich-rechtlichen US-Radio,
    "Der angesehene Kultursender «NPR» verlangte bis vor kurzem vor jedem gelegten Hyperlink einen schriftlichen Antrag. Erst eine Protestbewegung aus dem Netz stimmte ihn um."
  • June 28, 2002: Manjoo, Farhad, NPR Retreats, Link Stink Lingers, Wired:
    "In response to furious criticism of its online linking policy, National Public Radio will no longer require webmasters to ask permission to link to"
  • June 21, 2002: NPR: Hype and Paranoia, What Do I Know:
    "What was once a small, rather silly rant about NPR’s linking policy on their web site has bloomed into a full blown tech news story."
  • June 20, 2001: Hughes, Rob, NPR’s strange linking policy,
  • June 20, 2002: Manjoo, Farhad, Public Protests NPR Link Policy, Wired:
    "When huge, nameless, faceless corporations try to impose "linking policies" upon webmasters who want to point to the company's site, people usually react in a predictable way. They get mad, they spitefully put up dozens of policy-violating links, and they bemoan, once more, the fact that some folks still don't understand that if you don't want to be linked you shouldn't be on the Web."
  • June 20, 2002: Rochmis, Jon, Want to Read This? Ask First, Wired

NPR’s Privacy Policy  

The policy stated:
Linking to or framing of any material on this site without the prior written consent of NPR is prohibited.

Please use this form to request permission to link to and its related sites.



  • December 11, 2001: Hyperlinks? Bitte erst beantragen,
    "Die bekannte Firma zur Wirtschaftsprüfung KPMG will aber nicht verlinkt werden. Die Internet-Gemeinschaft protestiert dagegen - mit Links."
  • December 7, 2001: Riedlberger, Peter, Linken verboten, Telepolis
  • December 6, 2001: KPMG Link Policy,
  • December 6, 2001: Manjoo, Farhad, Big Stink Over a Simple Link, Wired:
    "In a letter to a consultant in Britain who runs a personal website that has not been especially nice to KPMG, the company said it had discovered a link on his site to, and that the website owner, Chris Raettig, should "please be aware such links require that a formal Agreement exist between our two parties, as mandated by our organization's Web Link Policy."
  • December 5, 2001: KPMG says nobody can link to without permission, Politech

  Song from KPMG, 

Fees for Links

Several websites require fees for hyperlinks!

  • December 28, 2000: McCullagh, Declan, Free Links, Only $50 Apiece, Wired:
    "Online news sites are turning to a novel way to make some extra cash: requiring fees for links. The Albuquerque Journal charges $50 for the right to link to each of its articles. and are more generous, and permit one to five links without payment."

  • July 1, 1999: Sprenger, Polly, Music Licenser Shakes Down Web, Wired :
    "ASCAP, an organization that collects licensing fees for musical performances, is asking webmasters to pay for the right to link to online music, even if it is stored on another site."


Don't Link To Us   

Sorkin, associate professor of law at the John Marshall Law School in Chicago links to "stupid linking policies" that restrict linking.

"Stupid linking policies" only in the USA? Not at all. A small collection of websites that restrict linking in Germany is available here! This list got media attention in January 2003:


Olympic Games: The gold medal for stupid linking policy goes to ...

There have always been reports about webmasters that don't like links pointing to their websites. First they sued - mostly because of deep links - and lost in many European countries (e.g. Austria, Germany) and in the USA - remember the Ticketmaster case? Than they tried to restrict the right to link with "stupid" linking policies and ridiculed themselves (the websites of Prof. Sorkin and Links & Law feature lists of companies that do so in the USA and in Germany). And are they getting smarter now? Guess not! Take a look at the official Olympic website and their Hyperlink policy: If you want to link to their site you have to send a request letter to the Internet Department stating e.g. a short description of your site, the url of your site, the publishing period (How about linking for three months?...) and the reason for linking (I always wanted to link to your site, I very much admire its content....)! And finally you are only allowed to use the term "ATHENS 2004" and no other term as the text referent...


Fast Company

The linking policy of Fast Company also deserves some closer scrutiny. It expected people who want to link to their site to fax a permission form to their legal department! Shortly after reports about the linking policy hit the net, Fast Company amended it. Their Contacts and Customer Service website now states:

"Fast Company permits links to the Web site. However, Fast Company reserves the right to withdraw permission for any link and requests that you not link for any impermissible purpose or in a manner that suggests that Fast Company promotes or endorses your Web site. does not allow framing of its Web site content."


Linking Cases

There have been a lot of lawsuits concerning linking, framing and search engine issues in the last years. In this section you'll find short introductions into the different cases and links to news articles about it. 

An overview over featured cases can be found here!

Latest News - Update 71

Legal trouble for YouTube in Germany

Germany: Employer may google job applicant

EU: Consultation on the E-Commerce-Directive

WIPO Paper on tradmarks and the internet

The ECJ and the AdWords Cases



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