Most business and business savvy clients work in areas and on projects that involve regular, sometimes intensive, and often constant research. Research is a constant!
And many people work from many places, researching at the office, at home or on the go. Many times this research involves the passing along of web links from one individual to another, and vice versa. Whether sharing news via e-mail, sync and data storage services, such as Drop Box, SkyDrive, Sugarsync, box.net., and many others; collaborative web portals, Social Media Sites, like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram; we all use web links. They are easy to copy and paste and are so conveniently placed right in our address bar for easy access. We share these links all the time without a second thought. But is this legal?
Now a federal judge confirms that our actions are perfectly fine.
In a recent case, a plaintiff sued defendant for copyright infringement. The plaintiff claim was partially based on alleged improper use of web links, arguing that a web link provides the pathway to copyrighted material. The court found however that a web link does not itself contain copyrighted material and therefore does not infringe upon a copyrights owner’s rights under Section 106 of the Copyrights Act.
The hyperlink serves as a window through which one can view material, copyrighted or not. Simply getting to the material presents no copyright infringement problem. It is the steps taken after finding the material that present a mine field of challenges and potential trips. Think twice ( or more) before downloading the material to your computer, or uploading it to a server. As for merely sharing or clicking on a link, no harm done.
For now, we are free to continue our use of web link sharing without any copyright infringement fears.