CNet Cracking Down on Linking

By Deane Barker on December 12, 2003

CNET’s legal team is going after news linkers: I link to a lot of CNet’s articles. Here’s to hoping I’m not next.

An editor of one of the sites that I closely work for has informed me that has issued a cease and desist notice citing that linking to their publicly published articles is in direct violation of U.S. Copyright Law and fails the “Fair Use” provision.



  1. I’m sorry, I just don’t get that. If you publish something in a public forum, and people link to it, those people are driving more traffic to your site. Period. That’s more sets of eyes to display ads to, or sell products to, or whatever.

    If people were doing the ol’ copy-paste action and posting CNET news on their own sites, that would be a problem. But as it stands, I just don’t get it.

  2. And if they’re so uptight about it, there’s a simple solution to make sure everyone comes in through the front page:

    Set a session variable on the front page only. If someone comes in on any other page without that variable set, redirect them to the front page.

    There, problem solved.

  3. Umm, that seems to be against their linking policy, which encourages linking:

    Please do:

    * Link to CNET content directly. CNET encourages direct links. As stated clearly on the CNET Networks Permissions page: "You may link from another site to CNET Networks' online content including reviews, articles, features, video and audio clips."
    * Observe all copyright laws. Here's the CNET Networks copyright information.
    * You are welcome to use the title or headline of the article to which you are linking, as long as you link directly to the article. To make this process even easier, CNET offers Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds of our stories at

    Unless the site in question is disregarding:

    Please do not:

    * Use a CNET headline to link anywhere but directly to the CNET story.
    * Attribute a link on your site to CNET and then link somewhere else.
    * Write and link to a summary of the CNET story which exceeds fair use guidelines.
    * Frame the CNET story or otherwise present the content as your own.
    * Use any images from CNET stories on your site.


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