Stupid Attempts At Linking Policies Live On

from the welcome-to-the-internet dept

It used to be quite common for web sites to bury linking policies in their terms of use, asserting that people needed permission to link to them, and could only do so in certain ways. Most people have figured out that's pretty ridiculous, but every once in a while, some lawyer who doesn't understand the internet at all puts together the TOS for a site, and includes some stupid "you have to ask before you link to us" policy. The link is one of the elements that makes the web what it is; it's sort of the point that people can use links to direct visitors to other places, enabling the spreading and sharing of all sorts of information. Linking is not copyright infringement, it's not a violation of a terms of service, it's not illegal -- it's a key part of the web. But somebody at the Financial Times, or its law firm, hasn't figured out that it's a good thing for people to link to one of their new sites, and has inserted a stupid linking policy into its TOS. Here's an idea: if they don't want people linking to the site, people should oblige them and not link to it. Want to try and control or limit how people send you traffic? Fine -- don't reap any of the benefits of inbound links, and take yourself out of Google and other search engines while you're at it.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Killer_Tofu (profile), Mar 20th, 2009 @ 12:50pm

    Movie Quote

    "... and just like that, he's gone."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Anonymous Poster, Mar 20th, 2009 @ 1:18pm

    So I suppose I shouldn't provide a link to their TOS, should I?

    Oh, whoops. Too late.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 20th, 2009 @ 1:25pm

    East fix: Update Robots.txt so you don't get indexed on any search engine and put your content behind a pay wall to which no one will subscribe. That'll keep the bastards from linking to your precious content.

     

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  4.  
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    Buzz, Mar 20th, 2009 @ 1:43pm

    Wow

    Do these people even know what a link actually is? Forbidding people from linking to your site is like Wal Mart forbidding people from letting their friends know where Wal Mart is in the city (or that one exists). If you have a web site on the Internet, you have no right telling others that they cannot acknowledge your existence.

    The ToS applies only to people visiting the actual site; it cannot dictate behavior of people at other sites. THEY NEVER AGREED TO THE TOS!

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 20th, 2009 @ 1:44pm

    I would like to formally link to that site's TOS in a derogatory manner: This TOS is completely retarded.

     

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  6.  
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    Matt, Mar 20th, 2009 @ 1:57pm

    Re:

    The linked boingboing story just updated to say that the TOS was from the private beta and was meant to be updated when they went public.

    This actually sense during a closed and private beta.

     

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  7.  
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    dev, Mar 20th, 2009 @ 2:01pm

    Re: Re:

    yet more proof that nobody reads TOS, not even the people who write them.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 20th, 2009 @ 2:04pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    true

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 20th, 2009 @ 2:18pm

    linking

    the ONLY time linking should be illegal is when a TOS tells you not to link to their pictures and not the their web pages. I'm fairly sure this can be filtered by the server.

     

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  10.  
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    Weird Harold, Mar 20th, 2009 @ 2:44pm

    Better is to link bomb him with useless links, making him number one for "stupid TOS" or similar.

    ;)

     

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  11.  
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    DanC, Mar 20th, 2009 @ 2:44pm

    Re: linking

    the ONLY time linking should be illegal is when a TOS tells you not to link to their pictures and not the their web pages.

    Uh, no that shouldn't be illegal either. There are ways to prevent this from happening that don't require the legal system. Violating a site's TOS is not a violation of the law.

     

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  12.  
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    inc, Mar 20th, 2009 @ 3:01pm

    Why don't they just put an .htaccess page up to block referring traffic? It's such a non-issue that it seems to me they are just looking for attention. It's simple the following should pop them a 403 Forbidden error.

    RewriteEngine on
    RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} badsite.com [NC,OR]
    RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} anotherbadsite.com
    RewriteRule .* - [F]

     

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  13.  
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    Mr Big Content, Mar 20th, 2009 @ 3:43pm

    Re: Weird Harold

    Better is to link bomb him with useless links, making him number one for "stupid TOS" or similar.

    Strange, I thought you were on the side of the Good Guys, and against copyright theft. Odd to see you advocating stealing in this way.

     

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  14.  
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    RD, Mar 20th, 2009 @ 4:18pm

    "Better is to link bomb him with useless links, making him number one for "stupid TOS" or similar."

    Strange, I thought you were on the side of the Good Guys, and against copyright theft. Odd to see you advocating stealing in this way.

    ------------
    Maybe WH is turning a corner and is seeing some of this stuff for the absurdity that it is? Taht Copyright is not absolute, and even when its in play doesnt mean you SHOULD force it all over everything? We can only hope.

     

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  15.  
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    Jesse, Mar 20th, 2009 @ 5:21pm

    That's like saying, "You have to ask my permission before you point to my house."

     

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  16.  
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    Weird Harold, Mar 20th, 2009 @ 5:41pm

    Re:

    No change of position. This is one of those very simple and straight forward situations where you don't have to think. If you put the website in public, it's public. If you don't want it public, make it private. If you make whiny requests for people not to link and don't do anything proactive to protect your stuff, you earn a kick in the corporate nuts.

    Hopefully they will let Google and Yahoo know about their wishes not to be linked.

     

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  17.  
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    Mr Big Content, Mar 20th, 2009 @ 6:45pm

    Re: Hide Warlord

    This is one of those very simple and straight forward situations where you don't have to think.

    Yes, that seems to be the usual excuse of you freetard copyright thieves. You "don't have to think" about how much your actions are costing the copyright owners in lost revenue, you just want everything for free.

     

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  18.  
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    S, Mar 20th, 2009 @ 10:17pm

    This is not unusual for UK news sites. The Times Online, Daily Mail, Telegraph, The Sun -- all forbid links to their articles. While at the same time encouraging people to submit their links to sites like Digg. Stupid.

     

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  19.  
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    Felix Pleșoianu, Mar 20th, 2009 @ 10:37pm

    Didn't the big Belgian newspapers try to do just that a couple of years ago? They sued Google for picking up their headlines and teasers. Well, guess what the Big G did.

    They took said newspapers out of their index.

    The Belgians made an U-turn in a couple of weeks. I shudder to think just how low their online readership must had sunk during that time.

     

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  20.  
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    Michael, Mar 23rd, 2009 @ 7:01am

    The UK government's doing it too

    Just discovered that the UK's Identity and Passports Service also forbids links: http://www.ips.gov.uk/passport/terms.asp (paragraph 4.2). So much for the government's drive to open up its data.

     

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  21.  
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    Desco (profile), Mar 23rd, 2009 @ 10:16am

    Referrer!

    Or here's another idea-- check the client's referrer and make sure it's coming from your own home pages, and if it's not, piss off your customers by sending them to your home page instead of the content they actually wanted.

     

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  22.  
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    Richie, Mar 23rd, 2009 @ 1:11pm

    East fix: Update Robots.txt so you don't get indexed on any search engine and put your content behind a pay wall to which no one will subscribe. That'll keep the bastards from linking to your precious content. C17 Crash Texas

     

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  23.  
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    linlu, Mar 23rd, 2009 @ 1:34pm

    I avoid stupid sites like these, don't you?

    Trying to stop linking is basically asking to be driven off the internet. If you don't want to be linked to (home page or deep linked), then don't put up your site. As a corollary any site that redirects me to the home page when I click on a deep link, is a site I don't visit. So much for ad dollars, eh?

    Pretty simple, the more user friendly you make your* site:
    (1) page URLs that don't expire,
    (2) fair use policies,
    (3) minimal loading time (e.g. flash me only if you have to),
    (4) easy navigation,
    (5) using google for search (don't force people to use your brain dead search engine - ala MS),
    (6) javascript only required for interaction - not for content delivery

    the more likely you will succeed in keeping eyeballs on your site. After all, there are at least a dozen or more sites just like yours that we will run to if you fail to meet these expectations.

    * directed toward brain dead companies like Financial Times - which has over a dozen well known competitors.

     

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  24.  
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    2recker (profile), Sep 16th, 2009 @ 5:29pm

    I didn't get it with the lawyer bit

    I can see some of the point but you will get sued any ways for what ever you do or don't do. Some times it just easy to use your head. Inlinks, backlinks every one wants and some don't care how you get them.

     

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