Authority on hyperlinks

Date: Wed, 22 Nov 95 16:19:06 -0500
From: "Phillip M. Hallam-Baker" <>
Organization: World Wide Web Consortium
Subject: Scientology

On the claim that a hyperlink is a publication to the material itself I would be happy to provide expert witness testimony that a URL is a statement of where a documentation may be found, nothing more. As one of the originators of the Web and being qualified in the relevant field (doctorate etc.) I would expect this to be difficult to refute.

Phillip M. Hallam-Baker - - Not speaking for anoyone else
Information Superhighway -----> Hi-ho! Yow! I'm surfing Arpanet!

To: (Karin Spaink)
Subject: Re: Scientology
Date: Wed, 22 Nov 95 21:20:13 -0500

To The Honourable Court.

My standing in this matter is as one of the developers of the World Wide Web, a global multimedia hypertext system. In 1992 I was appointed to a CERN Fellowship in Geneva, the laboratory from which the World Wide Web originated. During that time I participated in the development of the HTTP and HTML specifications, the core specifications of the Web. I am listed as one of thirteen people cited as deserving of special mention in the HTTP 1.0 standard specification. I am now employed by the World Wide Web Consortium at MIT. I have a Doctorate from Oxford University and a first class honours Batchelor of Science degree from Southampton University.

The court has been informed that the inclusion of a hypertext link a Uniform Resource Locator (URL) "must be considered equivalent to publication of the document itself". While I do not presume to advise the court on matters of law I do not accept that statement as true unless the court also holds that stating the name or location of a printed paper document must constitute publication.

A URL is a sign which permits a piece of information to be retrieved. It comprises three components, a protocol identifier specifying how the information is to be obtained, a network address from where the information is to be obtained and an additional label used to locate the information on a server.
Inclusion of a hypertext link to a resource within a document constitutes merely an assertion that a resource connected with a piece of text is avaliable from a particular network address through a particular mechanism. It does not constitute an assertion that the resource is not covered by copyright, nor that it is permitted to download the resource. Many such resources are customarily linked within the World Wide Web hypertext system, some of which are increasingly being made avaliable on a commercial basis, the content being supported through advertising material or direct payment.

There is no essential difference between a URL and a natural language description of the location of a resource except in so far as it permits automated retrieval of the the resource. I am not aware of any contrary view amongst the Web development community.