Internet links may create legal liability. Despite the Internet’s initial “free linking” ethos, links can be unlawful when they are designed to confuse viewers, to evade court orders or clear statutory prohibition, or to promote illegal conduct by others. But most linking is lawful, even where the linked site claims the right to authorize and control links. Linking law, which began with the Shetland Times headline-linking case in Scotland in late 1996, now includes several United States precedents as well as a developing worldwide body of opinions on various subjects.
As new linking claims are asserted, and as new linking techniques are created, courts are being challenged to carefully analyze the practical, technological and business circumstances surrounding the claims, and to fashion sound legal principles. This Article comprehensively reviews linking claims and potential claims, including cases of direct linking, deep linking, metatags, keyword purchases, inlining, framing, and de-rivative liability. It analyzes the legal theories asserted, suggests defenses and strategies for combating linking claims, and concludes with recom-mendations for link-law policies.