Permission to Link

We’ve previously directed you to the www.chillingeffects.org website for information on claim examples but the site also features a robust FAQ for the basics on linking, fair use, defamation and more.  If you’re looking for answers to questions such as what type of liability website links can pose or the difference between copyright infringement and plagiarism, the site’s FAQ may help. 

We considered linking exposures quite a while ago and a general search did not reveal any 2010 cases or hot topics regarding linking permission.  So perhaps the litigation landscape has quieted and website owners are more comfortable with other websites linking to them.  Is it now okay to link freely?  To err on the side of caution, you should consider 1) checking a website’s terms of use or legal notices for a linking permission policy; 2) asking permission when the linking permission policy is not clearly communicated; 3) being especially cognizant of a website’s linking policy when linking to an inside page as opposed to the home page; 4) implementing a procedure for quickly removing links when a website owner requests it; and 5) avoiding framing or inline image links.

To be better protected against third party claims arising from a link or other website content, the professional liability policy should include website activities within the definition of covered services.  If the insured posts content not only on its site but also other websites such as social media sites, make sure the policy’s website content coverage is not limited to the insured’s own site but also contemplates sites hosted by third parties.