Emerging Legal Trends on Hyperlinks and Meta-Tags: A Discourse

Emerging Legal Trends on Hyperlinks and Meta-Tags: A Discourse

Ameen Jauhar (J. Sagar Associates, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4209-6.ch005
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Abstract

Hyperlinks and meta-tags form two primary tools for Website designs. They are a convenient way to generate easy and faster connectivity on the World Wide Web. Hyperlinking techniques allow a quick retrieval of information, whereas meta-tags present a summarized understanding of the content and subject matter of the Website, thereby facilitating a more accurate list for search engines. That said, content is often hyperlinked or meta-tagged without permission or for abusive purpose. This has led to an increasing scale of litigation on grounds of unfair completion, anti-trade practices, and most recently, intellectual property infringement. Whether it is the dilution of a mark or a copyright violation through an unauthorized use of a meta-tag, the Internet, for its entire boon, has invoked an unprecedented era of technological misuse for commercial exploitation. The current chapter speaks on this facet from Indian and international perspectives.
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Introduction

The Internet today has grown from a few hundred Websites to hundreds and thousands of them. Practically every new business, semi-commercial, or private venture that comes up, has a Website to allow greater exposure to the growing netizen population. Given the unending expanse of the World Wide Web, hypertext linking is possibly a unique, modern, and efficacious tool to surf the Web and allow this vast pool of information to be accessed with considerable ease. It is the paramount tool used for Website designing and development of the Internet (Bodard, Lic, & Lic, 2004). Another tool found in common usage for Webpage designing is meta-tags. By definition, meta-tags can be understood as certain words or phrases, which, though not visible to the ordinary surfer, reflect on the content and subject matter of the Website. They hence, facilitate an easier and more organized indexing of Web pages via search engines (Kuester & Nieves, n.d.).

Internet linking has improved Web surfing capacity of an individual and created a comprehensive plane of connectivity and accessibility. However, it has simultaneously resulted in the advent of a plethora of liability cases. Most formats of Internet linking are considered not only lawful, but also necessary for the growth of the World Wide Web, yet some tools, like deep linking, framing etc. have roused enough controversy with their usage to require some sort of regulation over them. Beginning from the unprecedented stance taken in the Scottish court’s judgment in Shetland Times (Kuester & Nieves, n.d.), the area of liability for Web linking has now transcended across multiple jurisdictions. This chapter seeks to elaborate on this debate. Before highlighting the various legal arguments which have been forwarded in several high profile cases, let us identify how hyperlinks and meta-tags are used in Web designing.

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