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Deep Trouble

Do the links on your site lead to home pages? If not, your business could face legal risks.

This story appears in the January 2001 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Among the many gray areas of law, "deep linking" definitely demands the attention of any entrepreneur with a Web site. Deep linking is the practice of hyperlinking to a page several jumps into another Web site rather than to the site's home page. For example, linking directly to 's small-business desktop page at instead of Dell's home page at constitutes deep linking.

It sounds harmless enough, but when surfers bypass a home page, it often means bypassing the site's paid advertisements, bringing up some hairy trespassing and copyright issues. sued over its deep linking into's site for events that doesn't offer tickets for. In August 2000, a judge ruled that could continue its linking practices, but left the door wide open for to pursue its complaints of copyright infringement. In short, the gray area hasn't become any clearer.

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