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socrateaser
socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: Intellectual Property Law
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If I have my own website and wish to direct my website viewers

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If I have my own website and wish to direct my website viewers to other sites for informational purposes (these sites are resources that would serve as compliments to my own, original info), could I legally post links to those resources' home pages and give my viewers a reference as to where to go from those home pages? (for example, to avoid 'deep linking', would it be legal for me to post a link to a lyric website's homepage and list a few songs on my own website- probably near the link- that I suggest my viewers look up once they arrive at the lyric website's homepage?) I would also have a clearly-stated and readably visible disclaimer on my page, just to make sure that no one gets the impression that I am trying to take credit for the workings on the other websites.
Linking to a separate website has not generally been found to violate either copyright or trademark law. The issue is whether or not the link or associated text operates to confuse a consumer as to the source or affiliation of a product or service -- or the link dilutes the value of the trademark owner's good will.

There are no bright-line rules here. Your example suggests identifying the names of songs located on another website, and providing a link. In isolation, this doesn't appear to be a trademark infringement. However, let's say that you create a Directory of Lyrics websites. The question becomes whether or not you are providing a new service or merely misdirecting potential visitors who would otherwise find their way directly to the websites in your directory.

Now, I'm sure you know that Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc., are all just very sophisticated dynamic directories. No one claims that these websites are somehow stealing business from the websites displayed. Based upon that sort of argument, I don't believe that any business can produce a successful cause of action based upon a website's directory outside links.

However, sometimes, a cease and desist demand, combined with a demand for a damage settlement, is sufficient to stop small entrepreneurs from doing something which is actually entirely legal -- because the small business can't afford the cost of defending against litigation from a large well-funded adversary.

So, you have to be careful that you don't wake up a sleeping giant. BotXXXXX XXXXXne, the best you can do is to not copy creative text or images from another website onto your website, and make sure you are providing a distinctly different value than just a list of websites that could be picked up by a search engine and cause consumers to end up on your website, rather than the website they are actually seeking -- so that you can use the misdirection to try to gain advertising revenue for doing nothing more than redirecting the consumer's search.

Hope this helps.
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