The case of a links policy (a.k.a. protecting yourself over infringement linking)

Every several months I am asked why an organization should have a linking policy, one which states when it is acceptable to link from their website to another. For many website owners it seems like a bureaucratic specification since it should be common sense when to link or withhold linking to a third party.

In September, a New York district court approved a copyright infringement case to go forward against a website owner over claims that its website linked to an infringing copy of software that was hosted on a 3rd party server.

The legal details will still be argued in court, and the website owner may be able to shift liability to the developer used to create their website. However, just because the developer can be legally liable for linking to an illegal version of software doesn’t mean that the website owner is off the hook. If you hire and task any individual or agency to create digital on your behalf, you may be liable for their actions. Having a clear linking policy in place cannot only limit the legal exposure in case the developer makes a bad decision, but it can clearly define for any external party you choose to work with your values and tolerance for taking such risks.

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