Citebite and Deep Linking

A while back I bemoaned the fact that you can’t link directly to the paragraph of your choice within another’s web page (“Purple Numbers, Plinks, Cruft and the SCC“). Well, it seems that now you can, thanks to Citebite. You select the passage you want to point to, insert it into the “quote” box on the Citebite page, tell Citebite the URL, and wait while it concocts a URL that, when used, takes you to the very page you wanted with the very paragraph (or portion) you wanted highlighted in yellow.

The only procedural downside I can see is that (of course) you don’t get the target website’s URL in the address bar. But Citebite is smart enough to provide a transparent bar at the start of the page it gives you that sets out the original URL as a hyperlink. There is the worry, too, that this company won’t be around in a few years/months/weeks, with the consequence that your URL will be deader than a dot com; we learn from the blog, though, that the links are stored on Amazon’s huge servers and plan on being around for a while for that reason. Oh, and there’s what may be a legal issue, in that it would seem to me that to do this, Citebite must in one way or another capture the content of the page (whether dynamically — i.e. only when asked — or as a fixed page of content on its server); and it’s possible that some page owners would object to this re-purposing of their content.

It comes with a bookmarklet and a Firefox extension. There’s also a blog.

At any rate, for the curious, follow this link to a randomly chosen paragraph in a CanLII report of a SCC case: http://pages.citebite.com/o1i5x5p9l3ino.

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Comments

  1. I just did a “view source” on the example given, and the approach appears to be to reproduce the entire page, adding a span tag with an id for the quoted text, and other minor decorations. There are obvious and fatal copyright problems in this approach if the owner wants to make an issue of it.

    Speaking of deep-linking, I had a “LexisNexis Quicklaw Research Update” in my email today, so I renewed one of my longstanding questions about the new platform today. I got a prompt but disappointing response. It still, apparently, isn’t possible to put a deep link on a web page of my own to a LexisNexis Qucklaw document or search form. I wonder if I am the only one lobbying for this.

    This “Intranet Tool” is available using the new global platform from LexisNexis AU and from LexisNexis NZ. At LexisNexis Butterworths in the UK they call this LinkDirect Plus. The “classic” site (lexis.com) has Link Generator:, and the competition (Westlaw) has Link Builder.

    I have been nagging about this for almost a year now, and the lack of progress makes me wonder how many others find these tools useful.

  2. Priit Parmakson

    The technology looks impressive.

    But other technological solutions are certainly possible as well. You can put a request ‘show me paragraph no nnn’, in encoded form, of course, into the query part of the URL request – if only the browser would be able to interpret it. However, web standards based browsers like Firefox can be extended easily by writing add-on modules.

    It’s a matter of standardization perhaps; or – maybe nobody has really got the idea to write such an add-on module.

  3. John, re: copyright problems… is it any worse than Google cache? I’m not disagreeing, but wondering where the bar is being set?

    I like the idea of deep linking into QL. You’d think it would drive up general awareness of their service… or at the very least, usage rates.

  4. Check out this link (with all due apologies to CanLII):
    http://www.johndavis.ca/2007scc12.html#para22

    I copied the page to my own site, and put the highlighted paragraph inside an anchor tag with an id and style. I don’t need Citebite to do something as trivial as that. Of course, Citebite would let me do it anonymously, which would be helpful if i were inclined to infringe on a larger scale.

  5. You’re right, of course, John. I guess storage would be something of a problem if you got into it in a big way. And you’d have to know how to do a little markup.

    Does anyone know if you could create a Firefox plugin that would search/read through a page’s html? Because when it comes to linking to a paragraph within a Lexum or CanLII judgment, that would help, I think.