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I started this as a way to get discussion and solidly on what is (and isn't) appropriate to link to here. I've added external links, some which have stuck and some that others have removed as "not appropriate". We haven't had any big problems with external link, but there have been some minor conflicts and clashes over the past year that we've worked through and cleaned-up on a case-by-case. I based the beginnings of this policy on precedents and discussions our community has had on external linking cuppled with some other common wikis policies. My major question here is on linking to unsanctioned copyrighted works (lyrics, transcripts, videos, songs, etc). I know we don't post lyrics here, but we link to unofficial sites that do post lyrics. We don't allow links to videos of commercially available stuff, but a link to a single Sesame Street sketch on YouTube is done (but a link to a whole Muppet Babies episode is not). There are links to a video of Muppet commercials or industrial films (but not to a rare short film by Henson). There aren't links to places to download mp3s of rare out-of-print albums (I know of some sites out there), but there are links to videos of the musical numbers from the shows. What are the guides to linking to lyrics, transcripts, videos or downloads of copyrighted work not officially released? Here's Wikipedia's policy on the issue:

It is not necessary to obtain the permission of a copyright holder before linking to copyrighted material. However, If you know that an external Web site is carrying a work in violation of the creator's copyright, do not link to that copy of the work. Knowingly and intentionally directing others to a site that violates copyright has been considered a form of contributory infringement in the United States (Intellectual Reserve v. Utah Lighthouse Ministry). Linking to a page that illegally distributes someone else's work sheds a bad light on Wikipedia and its editors. This is particularly relevant when linking to sites such as YouTube, where due care should be taken to avoid linking to material that violates its creator's copyright.
What is our guideline (or what should it be)? Feel free to polish, add to, change and discus this whole thing – until we reach a consensus on a good guideline. -- Brad D. (talk) 03:25, 5 January 2007 (UTC)

I think building up a series of our official guidelines and policies is a good idea, so I'm glad you started this. I don't have the time to look at this in depth right this second, but I just wanted to put that out there. — Scott (talk) 04:08, 5 January 2007 (UTC)
My thoughts on song lyrics have always been that if people are interested in song lyrics, then they're probably interested in the actual songs too and that can only drive interest. It's an information service. That's why I have no problem creating song lyrics pages. I mean, I've seen sites that actually post the entire script for the film Aladdin and I'm just thinking --- if Disney isn't stopping this site (which is fairly easy to find) to post the complete script for this film, are they really going to go after something like some song lyrics for Bear in the Big Blue House, most of which aren't available on any album they've released? George B. (talk) 03:41, 7 January 2007 (UTC)
Well George, I agree with you that I don't think Disney (or Sesame Workshop or Henson) would sick their lawyers on Muppet Wiki for having a link to an independent site that posts lyrics (nor do I think that they would even spend their time/money to get those sites shut-down and have the owners locked-up). But although we might not get in "trouble" for it and we, and those sites, can "get away with it", it doesn't mean we should be doing it. I will admit that I like having links to song lyrics, links to YouTube videos or rare Sesame sketches and such on the appropriate pages - and I would also love if every article could have links to a transcript of the production and if we could collect links to free videos of each and every production and sketch out there, plus links to places to download each album. That would be great – but it wouldn't be "right". I know song lyrics seem innocent, but technically they are in violation of copyright - we aren't posting them here, but we are supporting them with a link. "Fair Use" allows us to do certain things for the use of education, research, analysis and critical discussion - and yes, some of the things we do here does technically violate "Fair Use". I'm not saying we shouldn't link to lyrics and videos – I'm just asking where to draw the line on what is and isn't ok to link to – full production transcripts, song lyrics, videos of individual sketches, videos of a full production, downloads of any non-commercially available stuff, song/album downloads, etc. If we link to the lyrics of "The Muppet Show Theme" or a video of the opening theme then why not to a link to a video of "Time Piece" or the full script of "Muppets from Space"? -- Brad D. (talk) 04:09, 7 January 2007 (UTC)

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