The international row over deep linking has reached new heights with a US non-profit organisation being bombarded with angry emails after attempting to ban the practice on its site.

At the same time Danish search site Newsbooster has been in court on charges of infringing copyright, after it deep-linked to content on web magazines owned by Danish Newspaper Publishers' Association (DNPA) members.

National Public Radio, an advertisement-free, member-supported network, has posted a notice on its site warning that “linking to or framing of any material on this site without the prior written consent of NPR is prohibited”.

This was picked up by weblogs and discussion sites and soon made the headlines on Daypop, which ranks popular items on weblogs. NPR then found itself bombarded by messages from readers and weblog publishers angry at the site's stance, usually associated with large corporate publishing houses.

Online Journalism Review contributing editor, Staci D Kramer, wrote an editorial on the subject, saying: “It's unacceptable for NPR, an ‘organisation dedicated to the highest journalistic ethics’ with a commitment to ‘independent, non-commercial journalism’, to attempt to solve these problems by squashing independence in others or by making it difficult for others to even promote their journalism via links to”

Meanwhile, after an adjournment, the case against Newsbooster will re-open on 5 July 2002. CEO Anders Lautrup-Larsen told that his opening arguments - based on the fact that Newsbooster is a search facility and therefore must link to the content it archives - were well received.

“We are confident about the outcome,” he said. Three other companies, including Computer World publisher IDG, have joined Newsbooster in court to offer supporting arguments.

The supporters have also written to the Danish governments warning of the implications if the verdict goes against deep linking. They fear it could set a Europe-wide legal precedent which would discriminate against smaller operations, opening the door for large publishers like the DNPA to dominate the market with their own search archives.


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