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Ticketmaster v. Microsoft [1997]
Washington Post v. TotalNEWS, Inc.

Ticketmaster v. Tickets.com March 2000

This is a US case.

Tickets.com is a leading one-stop online provider of entertainment, sports and travel tickets, event information and related products and services. The company sells tickets through the Internet, retail outlets, call centers and interactive voice response systems. At www.tickets.com, consumers can obtain information on thousands of events and entertainment organizations, purchase tickets and shop for related products and services. Tickets.com's automated ticketing solutions are used by over 4,100 entertainment organizations such as leading performing arts centers, professional sports organizations and various stadiums and arenas in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia and Latin America.

Tickets.com has provided hyperlinks to Ticketmaster's web pages at Ticketmaster.com for tickets not available at Tickets.com. .

On March 27, 2000 federal Judge Harry L. Hupp for the Central District of California ruled in favor of Tickets.com in the case of Ticketmaster Corp. v. Tickets.com (99-7654). In that case, Ticketmaster alleged that Tickets.com committed copyright infringement against Ticketmaster by the use of hyperlink from tickets.com to ticketmaster.com. Apart from the copyright allegation, there was also other causes of actions pleaded by Ticketmaster.

In his ruling, Hupp concluded "hypertext linking does not itself involve a violation of the Copyright Act since no copying is involved."

Hupp described the process of hyperlinking as follows: "The customer is automatically transferred to the particular genuine Web page of the original author. There is no deception in what is happening. This is analogous to using a library's card index to get reference to particular items, albeit faster and more efficiently." Hyperlinking therefore does not involve the reproduction, distribution or preparation of copies or derivative works. According to Hupp, it did not constitute a "display [of] the copyrighted work publicly?" as the web page called up by the user is the original web page created by the author.

Ticketmaster nevertheless succeeded the claim relying on the facts of 'deep linking'. Deeplinking was ruled to be an act of copyright infringement, unfair competition and false advertising made by Ticket.com.

Comments

This case has good reference value for Hong Kong. Some have argued that simple hyperlink infringes the copyright of the linked web-sites. Hong Kong's copyright law has similarly treated 'copying' as being one of the restricted acts. With the ruling that hyperlinking does not involve copying, it is rather safe to suggest that hyperlink does not infringe the restricted act of copying.

However, it remains untested whether hyperlink infringes other restricted act. The most obvious restricted act is 'making available copies to the public.' Under the Copyright Ordinance, such has included making available of copyright works by wire or wireless means on the Internet. It is arguable that hyperlinking is an act as such.