Sunday, March 28, 2010

Internet Linking and Citation

As I'm gearing up for the end of the school year I'm writing a lot of papers, and with papers comes the arguable trauma of citing. MLA, APA, Chicago, McGill, blah blah blah. There are so many different styles, so many ways to make small errors, and so many ways to be terrified you'll accidentally not cite something properly, get dragged in front of the dean and thrown out of your masters program because you forgot a period. Well. Not really. I ~know~ that I won't be thrown out for forgetting a period, I know I spend hours citing, and making sure I'm not plagerizing, but what about the real world? What happens when there is not more citations, or what about, the Internet?

Most people I've discussed the ideas/issues of Internet linking with agree that internet hyperlinks are a type of citation. There are, however, 2 schools of thought I've come across that DO NOT THINK that hyperlinks are a type of citation.

There are the people that 1. think you need to obtain permission to link to another website and 2. Those that think whoever is associated with the author/owner/host/ISP of a website are responsible for any content accessible via hyperlinks on their site.

I don't get that. Hyperlinking is a citation, because you are linking back to the original source material, you are NOT republishing the material on your own page - as that would be outright copying content from one page, onto another. I don't actually understand how a hyperlink could be considered republication, and am admittedly baffled by those who threaten legal action.

The Supreme Court of Canada has agreed to hear Wayne Crookes appeal of a '08 BC ruling that linking to websites that contain allegedly defamatory material is not in and of itself defamation. Vancouver-based Crookes has sued a TON of poor folks for libel based not on things they wrote on their websites but on thinks written on sites they linked to, or sites those sites linked to. Really? Really?? So I link to, say, a blog of a University of Toronto professor. They, in turn, are studying, I don't know - racism in the early 1900's in the Southern United States. On one of those sites, THEY link to links to a page where THAT page talks about how some anti-racism protester is dumb. Crookes then wants to sue the U of T prof for defamation.

Y'know what? I can't even.

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