Does a link from your web site to another constitute legitimate information-sharing, or republishing material you have no right to? British law has been struggling with this problem since at least 1996, when news from a Scottish online newspaper was being used as content on an unconnected local-interest site. But although most disputes are settled out of court, a recent ruling threatens to open the floodgates. Dot.com survivor and internet recruitment site Stepstone.co.uk has won a court order preventing another recruitment portal from linking directly to details of jobs on its site. To achieve this quickly, it brought a case in Germany based on a European law protecting investments in databases. The same law applies here and has just been used by the British Horse Racing Board to stop William Hill republishing sections of its racing database online. With other cases pending, the message to webmasters is clear - be alert.
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