Want To Link To Royal Mail? You Better Not Be In A Hurry

from the we-don't-want-no-linkin'-promotion dept

If you ever read terms of use pages for websites, you know that they are mostly boilerplate. Unfortunately whatever template all these businesses seem to be sharing makes some ridiculous assertions, perhaps the worst of which is a provision against hyperlinking to the site without written permission.

Of course, to anyone who understands the internet at all, that term is clearly unenforceable. But these standardized terms show up all over the place, so I had always assumed that it was a bit of vestigial legal jargon, and that most businesses weren't even aware of it. UK blogger Malcolm Coles discovered otherwise when he obeyed the terms on the Royal Mail website and requested written permission to link to a page. This initiated a bureaucratic farce that lasted for four months with no resolution.

To get your licence posted to you:
  • You have to write a letter to find out the right web address for the application form.
  • The letter back gives you a web address
  • The web address tells you to email.
  • When you email they don't reply.
  • But they do give you the option to, er, write in again.

That's right: the post office in the UK wants you to send them a letter and an email before you link to their website — and even then they never get around to giving you permission. Oh, and the page Coles wanted to link to? It was Royal Mail's business start-up services, which he was trying to promote for free.

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