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Ticketmaster, Microsoft and Search Engines

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Ticketmaster, Microsoft and Search Engines

From The Search Engine Report
June 6, 1997

By now, many of you have heard of the Ticketmaster - Microsoft dispute over inside linking. To recap briefly, Ticketmaster is suing Microsoft for linking to pages within its web site. It says that all links should come through its front door, the home page of the site. Otherwise, people miss out on seeing some of Ticketmaster's ads, and the company loses money.

Naturally, there's a lot of hype and concern that if Ticketmaster should somehow win, the web will come to a screeching halt, as linking becomes off-limits.

Funny, though. Ticketmaster doesn't seem to be suing any of the major search engines. When I checked in mid-May, AltaVista has 240 links to the Ticketmaster site. HotBot has 2,438 links. Infoseek has a whopping 22,570 links. All of these are to inside pages, along with the home page, of course.

Ticketmaster could stop this inside linking by installing a robots.txt file to ban search engines from indexing its site. Does it? Nope. Feel free to check for yourself. Enter:

If Ticketmaster wanted to stop inside linking, this file would exist, and it would have explicit instructions stopping robots and agents from linking to the site this way.

Clearly, Ticketmaster is selective about its claim to only allow home page linking -- a claim that probably can't be enforced in the first place and which is weakened by it allowing search engines into the site. You can't have it both ways.

NOTE: This has since been settled out of court.

MSoft, Ticketmaster Bury Hatchet
Wired News, Feb 16, 1999

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