Unger Technologies LLC


Let's take a look at what the term deep linking refers to

In the context of the World Wide Web, deep linking consists of using a hyperlink that links to a specific, generally searchable or indexed, piece of web content on a website (i.e. http://example.com/path/page), rather than the home page (i.e. http://example.com/).

This link: http://www.msn.com/money/retirement/the-average-american-retires-at-this-age-will-you/#Why is an example of a deep link. The URL contains all the information needed to point to a particular item, in this case the why section of the MSN article on retiring, instead of the MSN home page at http://www.msn.com.

A mobile deeplink functions much like a traditional hyperlink on a webpage. It is composed of separate elements that make up what is referred to as a Uniform Resource Identifier (URI). The URI contains all the information that, for example, might launch a mobile application to a specific screen.
When thinking about deeplink structure, the best practice is to implement a URL with a unique scheme name and routing parameters (path and query strings) that represent custom actions to take in the app.

Mobile deeplinking is especially useful for promotional efforts because it allows you and any third party to open the mobile app when a link is clicked, rather than driving to a website or to your app’s listing on the iOS App Store or Google Play.

Another example of deep linking allows application developers to link to specific pages or screens within the NY Times mobile application, a specific story lets say.

For desktop applications, we could use URL's to open an application as well as direct the application to go directly to a specific screen when the link is clicked.

The technology behind the World Wide Web, the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), does not actually make any distinction between "deep" links and any other links—all links are functionally equal.

Why some websites don't like it and the legal ramifications of doing it

Some commercial websites object to other sites making deep links into their content either because it bypasses advertising on their main pages, passes off their content as that of the linker or, like The Wall Street Journal, they charge users for permanently valid links.

Sometimes, deep linking has led to legal action such as in the 1997 case of Ticketmaster versus Microsoft, where Microsoft deep-linked to Ticketmaster's site from its Sidewalk service. This case was settled when Microsoft and Ticketmaster arranged a licensing agreement.

Ticketmaster later filed a similar case against Tickets.com, 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."


Probably the earliest legal case arising out of deep-linking was the 1996 Scottish case of The Shetland Times vs The Shetland News where the Times accused the News of appropriating stories on the Times' website as its own.

At the beginning of 2006, in a case between the search engine Bixee.com and job site Naukri.com, the Delhi High Court in India prohibited Bixee.com from deeplinking to Naukri.com.

In December 2006, a Texas court ruled that linking by a motocross website to videos on a Texas-based motocross video production website did not constitute fair use. The court subsequently issued an injunction. This case, SFX Motor Sports Inc., v. Davis, was not published in official reports, but is available at 2006 WL 3616983.

In a February 2006 ruling, the Danish Maritime and Commercial Court (Copenhagen) found systematic crawling, indexing and deep-linking by portal site ofir.dk of real estate site Home.dk not to conflict with Danish law or the database directive of the European Union. The Court even stated that search engines are desirable for the functioning of the Internet of today; and that, when publishing information on the Internet, one must assume—and accept—that search engines deep link to individual pages of one's website.

What about websites that use Adobe Flash and AJAX?

Websites which are built on web technologies such as Adobe Flash and AJAX often do not support deep linking. This can result in usability problems for people visiting such websites. For example, visitors to these websites may be unable to save bookmarks to individual pages or states of the site, web browser forward and back buttons may not work as expected, and use of the browser's refresh button may return the user to the initial page.

However, this is not a fundamental limitation of these technologies. Well-known techniques, and libraries such as SWFAddress and unFocus History Keeper, now exist that website creators using Flash or AJAX can use to provide deep linking to pages within their sites.

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