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

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Update 20: September 4, 2004

1. Semacode - Real World Hyperlinks

Semacode brings the world closer to machinereadable tags that link physical objects to information on the internet. As the Semacode Website puts it: "A semacode is a small symbol that encodes a standard, web-oriented URL. The URL is embedded into a two-dimensional barcode along with error correction information. When the semacode reader software snaps the barcode, it launches the embedded URL on whatever web browser is available. By building on top of existing technologies, semacodes take advantage of work that has already been done without re-inventing the wheel. Semacodes use existing standards in symbols (barcodes), content-resource identification (URLs), and content presentation (web browsers). The blending of these technologies into the semacode gestalt allows any person with access to a computer to tag their local and urban environment, and anyone with a cellphone to read those tags and follow the virtual links."

  • May 28, 2004: Einfacher surfen per Handy, Heise:
    "Das Eintippen einer URL in Web-fähige Mobiltelefone ist mühsam. Der Entwickler Simon Woodside stellt mit Semacode ein Verfahren vor, das Web-Adressen als zweidimensionale Barcodes ablegt -- Kamera-bewehrte Handys können solche Raster aufnehmen, mittels spezieller Software in das herkömmliche Textformat zurückwandeln und an den Handy-Browser weiterreichen."

  • May 18, 2004: Ulbrich, Chris, Camera Phones Link World to Web, Wired:
    "Technologists have long dreamed of a clickable world, where machine-readable tags link physical objects to the universe of information on the Web. That dream came closer to reality this month with the release of Semacode, a free system that lets camera phones convert bar codes into URLs."


2. Fast Company's linking policy

Links and Law has already reported about linking policies that try to restrict the "right to link" in the past. Maybe you remember the list of "stupid" linking policies Sorkin, associate professor of law at the John Marshall Law School in Chicago, put on his website. I also contributed to the discussion with a list of German websites that request permission for hyperlinks. Currently the linking policy of Fast Company 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."


3. Google on adword lawsuits

During the last months Links & Law often featured reports about new lawsuits brought against Google because of the use of trademarked terms in adwords. In its SEC filings Google commented on these lawsuits:

"Companies have also filed trademark infringement and related claims against us over the display of ads in response to user queries that include trademark terms. The outcomes of these lawsuits have differed from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. A court in France has held us liable for allowing advertisers to select certain trademarked terms as keywords. We have appealed this decision. We were also sued in Germany on a similar matter where a court held that we are not liable for the actions of our advertisers prior to notification of trademark rights. We are litigating similar issues in other cases in the U.S., France and Germany.

 In order to provide users with more useful ads, we have recently revised our trademark policy in the U.S. and Canada. Under our new policy, we no longer disable ads due to selection by our advertisers of trademarks as keyword triggers for the ads. As a result of this change in policy, we may be subject to more trademark infringement lawsuits. Defending these lawsuits could take time and resources. Adverse results in these lawsuits may result in, or even compel, a change in this practice which could result in a loss of revenue for us, which could harm our business."




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

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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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