Protecting Your Company With An External Links Policy

By | Internet Lawyer, Website Lawyer, Website Legal Documents | No Comments

What is an external links policy?

An external links policy is a specialized disclaimer your company’s website can post that disavows any approval of or control over content on external websites which might be linked to by pages on the original website. Such policies allow website operators to link to content on other websites with little risk that some sort of objectionable content or other activity on an external website might expose them to liability just because their website linked to the objectionable website.

What should an external links policy say and do?

The main reason such policies are necessary is because website ownership and content content change over time. This means that while a website you include a link to on one of your webpages now might be very good or acceptable at the time you insert the original link, the content might change over time into something objectionable (e.g. illegal gambling, pirated movies and songs, child pornography, etc.), and it might be some time before you notice the change and address it by altering or removing your hyperlinks.

Typically a website operator will create an external links policy, which is essentially a short disclaimer letting their website users know that if they click on an external link the website operators have no control over the content or information on the external website and assume no responsibility for any adverse action that might occur as a result of a user clicking such a link.

It is becoming increasingly common for websites to both post the policy in one central place with other important website policies and at the same time have a webpage come up whenever someone clicks an external link alerting the user to the external nature of the link and the website operator’s lack of control over. Some websites also require users clicking external links to signify, usually by clicking or checking some sort of acknowledgment, that they understand the nature of the external link and that the linking website has no control of responsibility for the external website.

These relatively simple steps go a long way towards making it safe for websites to link to external content without fear of liability for changing external content beyond their control.

How do you get your own external links policy?

Does your company need an external links policy put together for your website?

Internet Lawyer Mike Young has been helping internet businesses draft hosting terms of use and their other major internet policies and documents since the mid-nineties. For help with your document drafting needs, contact Attorney Young and set up a appointment by telephone today.

Government arrests website owner for external links

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Internet attorney arrest

Will your Internet attorney or criminal defense lawyer help you?

Your Internet Attorney can explain the reasons why you’re exposing yourself to additional legal risks when you hyperlink from your site to another website you don’t own,

These dangers exists even if you don’t use an affiliate link.

For example, let’s say that you link to a product on a website that you like…and you forget about doing so.

The domain switches ownership and the content of the site you linked to becomes something entirely different, such as a site with child pornography or illegal online gambling. And you’re still driving traffic to the site with your hyperlink to it.

Do you want to be investigated, sued, or even arrested for the link?

Ridiculous? Not according to the U.S. government.

For instance, the owner of a website that linked to websites that streaming TV shows and movies was arrested for criminal copyright infringement even though he didn’t possess any of the pirated content or even host it. The links were enough to get him in hot water.

Oh yeah, before arresting the guy, the government confiscated his website.

Confiscation? You bet.

Speaking of betting, did you know the U.S. government just shut down the three largest online gambling websites and charged the owners with money laundering and bank fraud?

Wouldn’t want to be one of the website owners linking to those gambling sites.

So what can you do to reduce your risk of getting taken to the cleaners because of your external links?

  • When in doubt, discuss things with your Internet attorney.
  • Don’t link to any site that contains illegal content.
  • Check your hyperlinks regularly to make sure the content you’re linking to hasn’t changed to something that could get you into hot water.
  • Have an External Links Policy on your website that limits your liability for website visitors clicking links on your site that go to other websites.

To your online success!

-Mike the Internet Attorney