A federal appeals court today changed course in a closely watched case on the legality of linking on the World Wide Web, issuing a revised ruling siding with search engine Ditto.com against photographer Leslie Kelly. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) had filed a brief urging the court to permit Web linking to copyrighted images.
"Website owners can rest a bit easier about linking to copyrighted materials online," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Fred von Lohmann. "By revising its ruling, the court removed a copyright iceberg from the main shipping lanes of the World Wide Web."
In its original ruling, the Ninth Circuit found that Ditto.com's use of thumbnail images was allowed under the copyright law doctrine of "fair use," but held Ditto.com liable for copyright infringement for opening a new window to display the image. Numerous other Web search engines, including Lycos, Google, and Altavista, use this technique, known as "in-line linking" or "framing." Today, the court retained its earlier "fair use" ruling, but deleted the discussion of in-line linking.
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