Submissions/The glue of the web - protecting the right to link

From Wikimania


This is an Open submission for Wikimania 2017 that has not yet been reviewed by a member of the Programme Committee.

Submission no. 4019 - LE2
Title of the submission

The glue of the web - protecting the right to link

Type of submission (lecture, panel, tutorial/workshop, roundtable discussion, lightning talk, poster, birds of a feather discussion)


Author of the submission

Jan Gerlach (WMF)

Language of presentation


E-mail address

JGerlach (WMF)

Country of origin

USA (via Switzerland)

Affiliation, if any (organisation, company etc.)

Wikimedia Foundation

Personal homepage or blog

Abstract (up to 300 words to describe your proposal)

Hyperlinks are the glue that holds the web together. They are an important way of exercising one’s freedom of expression on the internet. People use hyperlinks to refer to content they find online and to collaborate. On Wikipedia, hyperlinks serve the purpose of verifiability of content as they help people check where information comes from. However, recent court decisions and legislative proposals from around the world are threatening hyperlinks and their function on the web. This lecture discusses four different issues:

  1. In a case about defamation in Hungary, a news portal was sued for including a link to a YouTube video which contained allegedly defamatory statements.
  2. Several bills in Europe have aimed to protect the business model of traditional press publishers by creating new exclusive rights that allow publishers to control short summaries of their content (as you see often in news aggregation services) .
  3. A Canadian court ordered a search engine to remove from search results websites that were in the business of selling counterfeit products.
  4. New proposed rules around the world that could force web platforms to add tools to automatically detect and remove allegedly illegal or harmful content.

This lecture will demonstrate how these issues pose a threat to freedom of expression on the web.  As countries consider policy changes, our defense of the the right to hyperlink will affect the future of online collaboration and people’s ability to find information and educate themselves. Hyperlinks in references and external links connect Wikipedia to the rest of the web and make it easier for people to verify content. Given Wikipedia's prominence as a free knowledge institution, we should be at the forefront of protecting the right to link. The lecture will conclude with the top three things that Wikipedians can do to defend the hyperlink.

What will attendees take away from this session?

Attendees will learn about four different kinds of interesting, but problematic court cases and laws from around the world. They will gain a better understanding of the policy environment surrounding hyperlinks and learn what they can do to defend the right to link.

Theme of presentation

Legal & Free Culture

For workshops and discussions, what level is the intended audience?
Length of session (if other than 25 minutes, specify how long)
25 minutes
Will you attend Wikimania if your submission is not accepted?


Slides or further information (optional)
Special requests
Is this Submission a Draft or Final?



This is a Completed submission for Wikimania 2017 ready to be reviewed by a member of the Programme Committee.

Interested attendees

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  1. Amir É. Aharoni (talk) 09:53, 11 April 2017 (UTC)[reply]
  2. KHarold (WMF) (talk) 17:53, 19 April 2017 (UTC)[reply]