Identity, Ethos and Vigilance

Michelle Finley writes in Wired: Attention Editors: Deep Link Away

Hupp said deep linking is not illegal as long as it’s clear whom the linked page belongs to.

“Hyperlinking does not itself involve a violation of the Copyright Act,” Hupp said in his ruling. “There is no deception in what is happening. This is analogous to using a library’s card index to get reference to particular items, albeit faster and more efficiently.”

Website designer Laszlo Pataki cheers the judge’s decision but thinks that the case should have never gone to court.

“Why bring the lawyers in when there are simple technological fixes that could have solved the problem?” Pataki said. “For instance, Ticketmaster could have blocked all referrals from That’s an easy thing to do, so I suspect that by taking the legal route TicketMaster wanted to either get publicity or squish”

And here we are – in a deep link! I have deep linked into the print format of the item. And it seems right, feels right! There is no deception here, this is a story from Wired, click and it will take you to Wired. There are some issues here though.

  • Identity and ownership
  • Technological fixes

I hate that word “belongs to” in the quote above. I have just made a resolution to always do what I have done above, to add the authors name. Identity is important for both author and owner. WHO am I deep linking to? If that is obscured then it is plagerism. Law might say so but more than that, it is the ethos that counts. Ethos is more important than the law, because it must win out over bad laws. Ethos is free, laws belong to those who can pay lawyers.

Identity works the other way to. I link therefore I am. My links define me, I am not an island, I am a node in a larger net, and without the net “I” die. Weblogging has made that so clear. So do the best writers about the knowledge ecology, knowledge is a conversation, it always was.

Technological fixes; that scares me. Right there on the top of daypop today is an article by Robert X. Cringely, Bob writes:

This is NOT about making things better for the user. This is about removing the ability for the end user to make decisions about how his or her computer functions. It is an effort by Microsoft to take literal ownership of Internet technology, Microsoft’s “embrace and extend” strategy applied for the Nth time, though on a grander scale than we’ve ever seen before.

Technological “fixes” used by Palladium, and similar already being implemented by Microsoft in Windows Media Player “updates” (see Dittohead in BSDvault)

Maybe this is a case for stopping MS by law (what a joke), vigilance is needed and the ethos that we have a right to our personal space. It might initially be inconvenient, but not using Windows Media or Windows media player is an important start, a bit simpler than moving all the way to GNU/Linux, but a good step. Vigilance is not free, the price is effort, it means reading great efforts like TCPA / Palladium FAQ by Ross Anderson, who concludes:

No doubt Palladium will be bundled with new features so that the package as a whole appears to add value in the short term, but the long-term economic, social and legal implications require serious thought.

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