Is it legal to send emails having hyperlinks to other people's content?


Is there a copyright infringment problem if you send an email with links pointing to other people's content.


asked Oct 12 '09 at 01:34
547 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll

4 Answers


If you are talking about linking, and not about use of content in your email, then you are probably talking about deep linking and the legal precedents documented on Wikipedia would be of interest:

Ticketmaster later filed a similar case against, and the judge in this case ruled that such linking was legal as long as it was clear to whom the linked pages belonged. The court also concluded that URLs themselves were not copyrightable, writing: "A URL is simply an address, open to the public, like the street address of a building, which, if known, can enable the user to reach the building. There is nothing sufficiently original to make the URL a copyrightable item, especially the way it is used. There appear to be no cases holding the URLs to be subject to copyright. On principle, they should not be."

With citation to: Finley, Michelle (2000-03-30). "Attention Editors: Deep Link Away". Wired News.
answered Oct 12 '09 at 06:46
358 points
  • I get it. Tony, you and dlynton, both suggested to be safe by pointing to the source of the the url. I am planning to aggregate top content at for making a weekly digest and hence the question came up. – Anup 14 years ago


IANAL, but my guideline is always this: would I be pissed if someone else did this with my content?

If you give good attribution / credit, like you would want someone else to do when they circulate your content, then you'll probably be fine. Ask the above question honestly, and treat others the way you want to be treated.

answered Oct 12 '09 at 09:55
Yoav Shapira
216 points
  • Hi Yoav, would you be pissed if I drove traffic to your website through email marketing and also disclosed that the content belongs to you ? – Anup 14 years ago
  • No. As long as your disclosure is honest and transparent, I think I'd be fine with it. – Yoav Shapira 14 years ago


I always use verbiage like, "recommended reading", or "you'll really like this post by _. Be sure to subscribe to their blog". It's unclear from your question the context in which you are linking to others' content. Just be sure to give proper credit. The internet is all about sharing quality information. Better yet, write a blog posts with the articles you're recommending, and link the recipient to that instead.

answered Oct 12 '09 at 04:16
1,057 points


In matters of law, the answer often lies elsewhere...

In your case, what really matters is: would the site you are linking to enjoy suing you? If the answer is yes, they can make your life miserable, even though you'd prevail in court eventually, if you could afford it.

Bottom line: play nice, be careful and it will limit your legal exposure. But you can't rule out 100% the risk of a [frivolous] lawsuit. So you need to understand the dynamics of your space.

If your newsletter is essentially copying and destroying someone else's business, you are likely to get in trouble. It's that simple.

answered Oct 12 '09 at 09:42
Alain Raynaud
10,927 points
  • You hit the nail on its head. If I drive traffic to your website, then this should be good. Also disclosing the fact that the content belongs to the authors and doesnot belong to me will make sure that I don't get hit by any lawsuits. – Anup 14 years ago

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