Deep Linking: An Ethical and Legal Analysis

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Deep linking, the practice of linking to a subsidiary page rather than the home page of another organization's Web site, is the subject of considerable controversy. In several recent lawsuits, plaintiffs have alleged violations of copyright, trademark, and commercial laws. I review the legal and ethical issues regarding deep linking and comment on how the ethical conflict between rights and utility motivates the controversy. I conclude that protecting site owners' rights to control deep linking to their sites is a stronger value than enhancing the utility of the Web for users by allowing completely unrestricted deep linking. Finally, I recommend a collection of resources for Web developers interested in staying current with the evolving controversy