The Canadian Supreme Court held that, by itself, a hyperlink to a third party’s website containing allegedly defamatory statements links does not constitute a publication of those statements for purposes of imposing defamation liability on the linking party. Crookes v. Newton, 2011 SCC 47 (Canada Oct. 19, 2011). In the following passage, the court accepted the analogy between hyperlinks on a website and footnote references in a printed text:
Hyperlinks … share the same relationship with the content to which they refer as do references. Both communicate that something exists, but do not, by themselves, communicate its content. And they both require some act on the part of a third party before he or she gains access to the content. The fact that access to that content is far easier with hyperlinks than with footnotes does not change the reality that a hyperlink, by itself, is content neutral — it expresses no opinion, nor does it have any control over, the content to which it refers.