Linking on the web
Produced in partnership with Toby Headdon of Bristows LLP
Linking on the web

The following IP guidance note Produced in partnership with Toby Headdon of Bristows LLP provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Linking on the web
  • Linking terminology
  • Linking and copyright
  • Copyright—the reproduction right
  • Linking and other intellectual property rights
  • Linking to defamatory/unlawful material
  • Linking and contractual restrictions/limitations

This Practice Note explains the manner in which intellectual property and other rights apply in the context of linking on the web, with specific regard to the perspective of a website operator.

Linking terminology

‘Linking’ is often used as a generic term to describe a range of activities where connections are made between different Internet locations, such as between websites located at different addresses (Uniform Resource Locators or URLs).

As the law has evolved, so has the terminology to describe linking which includes a number of different labels. Sometimes these different labels are useful because they indicate technical features of the activity from which particular legal consequences follow. For example, with ‘inline linking’, described further below, no copy of the linked content is made or stored on the server of the linking website with the consequence that there is no ‘reproduction’ by the linking website itself (see Wheat v Alphabet Inc/Google). Sometimes, however, the labels can be confusing too because they do not describe mutually exclusive categories of activities and in many cases it is possible to apply more than one label to the same activity. It is therefore helpful and important to understand this terminology in order to be able to provide coherent legal advice.


  1. hyperlinks usually appear on a website as highlighted or underlined text (or sometimes an