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! )
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?