Lawsuit over Hyperlink?

In Canada a man is suing another person for linking to allegedly damaging web content on a web site (the suit is currently before the Canadian Supreme Court).  A big “thank you” to Mac Slolcum for writing about this issue last week. In his article Mac asks the pertinent question, “Is a link on your web site equivalent to an endorsement of that content?” Think about it for a second. If you click the “Like” button on Facebook aren’t you telling your “friends” that you endorse that product, idea, video, or web site? What about when you re-tweet someone’s comments and then link to their site (like I hope you do with my blog posts! :-D )

The full story can be found on arstechnica’s web site. The article is from two weeks ago and I cannot find a follow up story regarding the final ruling on the case (if you have the info, please let us know in the comment section below).

Many years ago the pastor/leader of a very well known ministry endorsed an author’s book with glowing terms. A couple years later the author had an affair and the author’s ministry all but collapsed. The pastor then had to answer questions about why he endorsed that person’s book. And since the book was still in print his name was “associated” with that author’s name. His board of directors then made a policy that this pastor would no longer endorse another author’s book unless they were a long time personal friend and he could vouch for their character. Many other well-known Christian ministry leaders followed suit and maintain that policy today.

I know these are two different issues…but are they?

What sort of criteria do you use when “endorsing” or “linking” to another web site? Is it merely citing your source? or is it tantamount to an endorsement? And if so, so what? What is the big deal? Is this merely a frivolous lawsuit? (not if it made its way all the way to the Supreme Court it isn’t.) Should you be more selective?

And how careful are you in endorsing another writer’s non-fiction book or novel?

Is this just a case of being guilty by association?

6 Responses to Lawsuit over Hyperlink?

  1. Cary Smith December 20, 2010 at 5:51 pm #

    Check out my blog site: caryfranklinsmith.blogspot.com.
    Great Christmastime humor.
    Cary

  2. Timothy Fish December 21, 2010 at 8:45 am #

    For the most part, I see links as a means of providing a source. But that being said, I am extra careful about what links I allow on our church website. We don’t really have control over how website owners change their content. While a rogue link might be an embarrassment for me, when the church is involved I hold website owners to a higher standard.

  3. Bill Giovannetti December 21, 2010 at 9:06 am #

    When I link to a site or refer to an author, that should knot imply a blanket endorsement of the site or author. Isn’t it just common sense that no two people will agree on everything? I’m married to a lawyer, and we’re always joking about the kind of world lawyers have created.

  4. Sue Harrison December 21, 2010 at 3:06 pm #

    Shortly after my first book was published, I wrote a cover blurb for a friend that did not endorse his book, but merely commented on it. Unfortunately, people took that as endorsement.

    Okay, Sue, one hundred times on the blackboard: I’m sorry, but I can’t… I’m sorry, but I can’t… I’m sorry….

  5. Timothy Fish December 21, 2010 at 3:53 pm #

    A cover burb is far different from a link. If I post on my blog, “I have a friend who wrote a book,” and I provide a link, that isn’t necessarily and endorsement. But if I write “This book took me by surprise in how it covered the topic of vampires in the Amish community,” and I agree to let my friend put that on his cover, that is going to look like an endorsement whether I intended it that way or not.

  6. Kristen Atkinson December 24, 2010 at 12:04 am #

    Shortly after my first book was published, I wrote a cover blurb for a friend that did not endorse his book, but merely commented on it. Unfortunately, people took that as endorsement. Okay, Sue, one hundred times on the blackboard: I’m sorry, but I can’t… I’m sorry, but I can’t… I’m sorry….

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