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

Hyperlink & Search Engine Law News  Decisions & Court Documents Worldwide Legal Resources (Hyperlink & Search Engine Law Articles) Linking Law Cases Search Engine Law Publications by Dr. Stephan Ott Technical    Background

 Update 11: November 3, 2003

One year Links&Law! This site went online November 1, 2002 and had more than 20.000 visitors in its first year. It was mentioned in several articles all around the world, including articles from Japan, Brazil, Russa, Poland, and already is the largest resource on linking disputes on the net. But it is impossible to find all new stories involving hyperlinks. So if you know of one not already mentioned here, please let me know (  The website also "only" mentiones articles in German or in English so far. If you know material in other languages, please send me an e-mail. Maybe you even want to become part of the Links&Law project and be responsible for a sub-section with information on hyperlink-issues in your own country? And finally, if there are other things,  you want to see here (e.g. a Links&Law Newsletter, more own content on the legality of hyperlinks) don't hesitate to tell me. Help Links&Law grow and become a even more valuable resource for webmasters, legal experts and everyone who is interested to learn about the legal discussion involving hyperlinks and search engines!

This is the last update of the year. Links & Law will be back in January 2004 with all the latest news. In the meantime, check out my new annotation to the decision that held deep linking to be legal in Germany. The annotation will probably be published in wrp 2004 issue 1 (released mid December 2003).

Developing Stories:  

1. A "Code of Conduct" for search-engine operators?

Bertelsmann Stiftung, the foundation which owns the german media giant Bertelsmann, published a study about the usage of search engines in Germany (see Transparency on the Internet: Search Engines, Bertelsmann Stiftung) and developed a “Code of Conduct” for search-engine operators that aims to ensure objective, transparent access to information on the Net.

  • October 24, 2003: Kodex für Suchmaschinen-Betreiber, futureZone

  • October 23, 2003: European Search Engines, Webmaster World

  • October 22, 2003: Kodex für Suchmaschinen, ZDF heute:
    "Gemäß einem neuen Verhaltenskodex wollen mehrere Betreiber von Internet-Suchmaschinen Werbung künftig eindeutig kenntlich machen. Grundlage ist ein Papier, das die Bertelsmann-Stiftung (Gütersloh) entwickelt hat."

  • October 22, 2003: Verhaltensrichtlinien für Suchmaschinenbetreiber, Heise:
    "Vor allem sollen die Suchmaschinenbetreiber für mehr Transparenz bei den Kriterien für das Ranking sorgen, gekaufte Links klarer kennzeichnen und auch Informationen über die Suchmaschinen-kompatible Gestaltung von Webseiten beziehungsweise Ausschlusskritierien für "Fälscher" bieten."


Also see: Alexander, Marcus, Transparency is the first step in search engines self-regulation, PCMLP Self-Regulation Review - August 2003

2. Search engines liable for allowing advertisers to use protected terms in text ads?

The civil court in Nanterre fined Google 75,000 euros for allowing advertisers to link text internet advertisements to trademarked search terms and gave the company 30 days to stop the practice. In the trademark case, the owner of the name "Bourse des vols" (Market for Flights) wanted Google to stop allowing competitors to include "Bourse des vols" as a term that would generate an advertisement and link to their own site. Google said it would appeal the decision.

Louis Vuitton also is suing Google and its French subsidiary for trademark infringement. Lawyers for Google and Vuitton  are to attend a preliminary hearing in Paris on November 3.

  • October 28: Louis Vuitton verklagt Google, Heise: 
    "Der französische Luxusgüter-Hersteller Louis Vuitton hat die Betreiber der Suchmaschine Google auf Schadenersatz verklagt, weil sie dessen Markenrechte durch die Platzierung von Werbebotschaften neben Trefferlisten verletzt haben sollen."

  • October 24, 2003: Frost, Laurence, Louis Vuitton sues Google for alleged trademark infringement online, Mercury News:
    "Google and its French subsidiary are facing another trademark challenge in the wake of a landmark ruling that could force the popular Internet search engine to change how it sells advertising."

  • October 24, 2003: Handbag maker Vuitton sues Google, CNN:
    "Louis Vuitton SA is suing Google and its French subsidiary for trademark infringement in the wake of a landmark ruling that could force the popular Internet search engine to change the way it sells advertising."

  • October 20, 2003: Google muss 75.000 Euro wegen Einblendung von Textwerbung zahlen, Institut für Urheber- und Medienrecht:
    "Die Eingabe von Adwords, die gleichzeitig Markennamen sind, darf nicht zur Auflistung von Textwerbung führen, die den geschützten Begriff enthält."

  • October 19, 2003: "Adwords" bei Google dürfen nicht auf fremde Werbung verweisen", Heise:
    "In Frankreich hat ein Gericht entschieden, dass Suchworte bei Google, die gleichzeitig Markennamen sind, nicht mehr auf Links von Konkurrenten verweisen dürfen, die diese Markennamen in ihre Werbung einbauen."

  • October 18, 2003: Noble, Christopher, Google fined in trademark case, Yahoo News:
    "A French court has ruled against Internet search powerhouse Google in an intellectual property rights case that could have far reaching technological and financial implications for Web search firms, who process tens of millions of queries a day."

3. Recommendations on the responsibilities for linking to illicit content

France's Internet Rights Forum (Le forum des droits sur l’internet or FDI) has published recommendations on the responsibilities of sites that create hyperlinks to "illicit content".

4. Right to link threatened in the USA?

Defending the right to link to controversial information about flaws in electronic voting systems, EFF announced it will defend an Internet Service Provider (ISP) and a news website publisher against claims of indirect copyright infringement from the electronic voting machines' manufacturer.

  • October 17, 2003: Hales, Paul, Firm's attempts to down hyperlinks an attack on free speech, says EFF, The Inquirer:
    "The antics of Diebold, a maker of electronic voting systems, which has been leaning on ISPs to get them to prevent linking to a election of its internal memos here, have drawn the EFF into the ring."

  • October 16, 2003: EFF Defends Right to Publish Links to Electronic Voting Memos, Electronic Frontier Foundation Media Release:
    "On October 10, 2003, electronic voting company Diebold, Inc., sent a cease-and-desist letter to the nonprofit Online Policy Group (OPG) ISP demanding that OPG remove a page of links published on an Independent Media Center (IndyMedia) website located on a computer server hosted by OPG."

Also see:

5. Also in the news

  • October 8, 2003: Streck, Ralf: Kampf um den Online-Nachrichtenmarkt, Telepolis:
    "Die großen spanischen Tageszeitungen El Pais und El Mundo haben dem Nachrichtenportal Periodista Digital untersagt, Inhalte auch in Form von Titeln zu übernehmen oder "deep links" zu legen."

  • October 21, 2003: Stark, Robert: Verlinken bleibt frei, onlinejournalismus:
    "Wer einen Link auf eine antirassistische Website setzt, die ihrerseits auf eine rassistische Website linkt, macht sich nicht strafbar. Das hat das Zürcher Obergericht Anfang Oktober entschieden. Die berufliche Karriere des Freigesprochenen ist trotzdem ruiniert."

  • September 19, 2003: Urteil: Zwei Klicks zum Webimpressum sind statthaft, Heise
    "Das Oberlandesgericht München hat am vergangenen Donnerstag (AZ 29 U 2681/03) entschieden, dass dem Besucher einer Website zugemutet werden kann, über zwei Links zur Anbieterkennzeichnung (Web-Impressum) zu gelangen."

New in Legal Resources:  

  • Schuster, Fabian / Kemper, Birgit/ Schlegel, Ralf Oliver/ Schütze, Marc/ zur Wiesche, Jens Schulte/Sodtalbers, Axel, Entwicklung des Internet- und Multimediarechts im Jahre 2002, MMR Beilage 5/2003

  • Thiele, Clemens/ Waß, Clemens, K&R-Kommentar zu OGH K&R 2003, 420 ff - Meteo-Data, K&R 2003, 423-424

  • Wiebe, Andreas, (Wettbewerbs)rechtliche Probleme des Framing, S. 133 ff.  in: Hohl/ Leible/ Sosnitza, Domains Frames und Links, 2002

  • Müglich, Andreas, Zivilrechtliche Haftung für Hyperlinks, S. 153 ff. in: Hohl/ Leible/ Sosnitza, Domains Frames und Links, 2002

  • Bär, Wolfgang, Die strafrechtliche Verantwortlichkeit für Hyperlinks, S. 191 ff. in: Hohl/ Leible/ Sosnitza, Domains Frames und Links, 2002

New in Technical Background:  

Web Link Research


Over 5% of links on the Web are broken! Want to find broken links on your website? Check out the following sites:

  • W3C Link-Checker

  • "Durchforstet Ihre Site nach toten Links und zeigt die Ladezeit der Web-Seiten an."

  • Link Valet

  • Mylinkcheck: "Nie wieder 404 Not Found oder ähnliche Fehlermeldungen! mylinkcheck kontrolliert Ihre Webseiten - auf Wunsch auch regelmäßig."

  •, Linkchecker: "With the size of your website, it may be difficult to keep track of all the links. Take a moment to use our Link Checker to scan your website for "404"s - those annoying "page not found" errors."





The Links & Law website is updated regularily, so  check back for updated information and resources about search engine and linking issues.

You are currently in the archive with older news. A complete list of the updates 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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