Having recently been in Germany, and discussing the state of the law there, I have to say that I was pretty stunned with the level of liability placed on third parties in Germany. I was told, repeatedly, that German law places tremendous liability on third parties, holding them responsible for actions of users in many, many cases. So, perhaps it shouldn't have been a surprise that a news publisher, Heise, was banned from linking to a software company, Slysoft, which makes programs for copying various content from CDs, DVDs, etc., and which can be used to circumvent DRM. Way back in 2005, Heise was sued by folks in the music industry (it's unclear exactly who, and most of my searches are turning up only German reports on this -- so if anyone knows, please fill us in via the comments), and a court ruled that it could not even link to Slysoft's front page, even as the company's lawyers pointed out (correctly) that not linking wouldn't exactly stop people from being able to find Slysoft and its software, and that linking is part of how journalism works these days.
Another court in 2008 agreed, but now, five years after the original ruling, it appears that a court has rejected those earlier rulings
and upheld Heise's right to link to the website of a company it was reporting on (found via Glyn Moody
). It's pretty amazing in this day and age that this even needs to be discussed, but there's still plenty of confusion over this. A link is just a form of speech. It's about time that courts finally understood this simple fact.