It's my party, and I'll link who I want to

It's my party, and I'll link who I want to

Well, it's been nice knowing you, Maximum PC readers. Because after I click "submit" on this post, it's going to be a short countdown before the first of the legal threats arrive. All because I'm using hyperlinks. Yes, that's right. Hyperlinks. Nothing is sacred in the World Wide Web anymore, as a few corporations insist on trying to place restrictions on the way in which you link to their websites. Take a deep breath, utter your favorite naughty phrase, and let's take a look at one such agreement from my dear friend Cingular:

Links to the Sites. You are granted a limited, nonexclusive right to create a hypertext link to the homepage of the Sites, provided such link does not portray Cingular Wireless or any of its products and services in a false, misleading, derogatory, or otherwise defamatory manner. You may not use a Cingular or Cingular Wireless logo or other proprietary graphic or trademark of Cingular or Cingular Wireless to link to the Sites without the express written permission of Cingular Wireless. This limited right may be revoked at any time.

IANAL, but you've got to be kidding me. Heaven forbid I say that Cingular blows, or express an equally profane displeasure at the service's tendency to drop my calls with some weird busy single. Or the fact that I think Cingular's service, as a whole, is horribly overpriced, and that I think the company gouges the customer with every worthless add-on option it offers. Nope. Can't say that; not if I want to link to Cingular, because that might be construed as misleading. Or defamatory. Or something.

I'm not going to get into the legal terms of the policy -- which make sense on their face, as the conduct Cingular describes is a basically the definition of libel. I just think it's stupid that Cingular is trying to attach a tort to a hyperlink when there's no basis for doing so. File a legal challenge to the words themselves. A hyperlink is entirely neutral. It does no greater or lesser damage to Cingular for me to combine a profanity-laden streak of lies with a way to get to the company's website. And frankly, I'm a bit taken aback that -- according to Cingular's policy -- I'm apparently entering some kind of agreement the second I start typing "a href." A hyperlink isn't a signature, especially to some arbitrary policy that's quasi-buried on a web site.

Let's continue:

ChaCha grants to you a terminable, non-exclusive, non-transferable license to (a) establish a "Link" (as defined below) to the Site, (b) use the "Logos" (as defined below) solely for the purpose of establishing the Link, and (c) publicly display and reproduce the "HTML Code" (as defined below) on your website. As used in this Agreement, the term "Link" shall mean a hyperlink located on your website which shall connect the user to the Site, and which shall be implemented by you solely in accordance with this Agreement. The term "Logos" shall mean the Search Boxes and Badges found on the "Link to Us" page of the Site, which shall accompany the Link on your website.

So not only is ChaCha ordering me to use their stupid search boxes or badges whenever I link to their site, but later on in the Terms, it specifics that I can't use the logos along content that is "distasteful," amongst other fun adjectives. Well, I guess that rules out any links from this blog!

All links to the Site must be approved in writing by GE, except that GE consents to links in which: (i) the link is a text-only link containing only the name "General Electric Co."; (ii) the link "points" only to www.ge.com and not to deeper pages;(iii) the link, when activated by a user, displays that page full-screen in a fully operable and navigable browser window and not within a "frame" on the linked website; and (iv) the appearance, position, and other aspects of the link may neither create the false appearance that an entity or its activities or products are associated with or sponsored by GE nor be such as to damage or dilute the goodwill associated with the name and trademarks of GE or its Affiliates.

Oop. Now I'm definitely not allowed to say "GE sucks," else I'll clearly be violating this ever-important policy, and will thus be unable to link to General Electric in any capacity -- a "permission" they could revoke at at any time, mind you. But what's a hyperlink, anyway? GE sucks? GE sucks, so check them out at gee-eee-dot-com? GE sucks, and their website is ge.com. Any of these more legally sound than the others? Or am I screwed no matter what?

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Rennfield

*blink-blinks, face faults and dies from the sheer stupidity* I am rather surprised it's come to this. Though I guess it's to be expected. How long before we have to submit in writing and in triplicate copies that will eventually get lost, found, burned, burried, dug up and have to be resubmitted in order to get permission to link to a web site; even if it isn't a major corporation?

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Morichalion

How DARE you do that? Linking to some innocent corporation's website?

I mean, have you thought about the additional TRAFFIC those websites are going to get? The potential customers that are even now browsing their site?

How DARE you drive more customers to their site...

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stupiddamnusern...

Yes! a way to sue google for linking to me!! I'll get billions.

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soggybomb

Bad things happen when lawyers and computers mix...evil copyright software, now EULAs for hyperlinks.

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ShadesOfGrey

Good grief! What will they think of next.

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popstop785

Wow. . . I am speechless. . .

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XRolando

Let it all out my friend! Soon you'll be ready to move on to software patents!

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TheMurph

Oh god, don't get me started on EULAs...

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