One of my highest traffic posts on The Webinar Blog is "Copyrights And Fair Use In Presentations." In that article, I pointed out that fair use determination is a highly subjective legal area, and that no clear and unambiguous determinants exist. If something goes to trial, nobody can be sure of the outcome. You can never rely on what you think is "common sense" and "obvious" to carry the day.
The one thing I contented myself with was the fact that rather than embedding someone else's content in your presentation, you could always avoid any hint of legal liability by simply providing a link to their content on their site. That way they always host, control, and own their material. All you are doing is giving people access to the public link they established by putting it on the web.
Today I found out that this is a misconception. You can potentially be found liable even for including a link to someone else's web content. Holy cow. Before you start screaming at me about how that is idiotic, please know that I feel the same way.
I discovered a page on legal implications of linking to web content, published by Stanford University Libraries. It points out that linking to the home page of a website is almost never going to get you in trouble. But linking to a specific piece of content and bypassing the source site's own navigation system has been challenged in court under copyright and trademark law. The practice is known as "deep linking." If you want to completely cover yourself, you should ask for permission to link directly to a specific piece of content that would otherwise be found through the site's own navigation process.
I think the use case and the damage to the content provider would have to be pretty darned egregious in order to win such a case. There are so many common use precedents on the World Wide Web for deep linking that it would destroy the internet if this was rigidly prosecuted on a widespread basis. But as with everything else in copyright law, there's no way to guess ahead of time how any given court case might play out. The risk-averse should take note.