I normally don’t post anything but photography on here but this was a topic just too good to give up. Earlier this morning I was reading a post on a UK blog entitled “15 more sites that forbid you from linking to them“. After having a chuckle at the list and the stupidity of trying stop people linking to your website I got thinking “Surely Australian websites aren’t this silly are they?”. Oh how wrong I was.
Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. I don’t pretend to understand the complexities of law. I do however inhabit the real world and from my personal perspective these terms & conditions are utterly inane.
Don’t Link Here
I kept the idea basic. Find Australian websites that had Terms & Conditions that either banned or inanely denied you linking to their website. I did not have to go far. And yes I am breaking their terms & conditions by linking their terms & conditions pages here. The irony does not escape me.
“You must not however reproduce, frame, transmit (including broadcast), adapt, link to or otherwise use any of the Content, including audio and video excerpts, except as expressly permitted by statute or with Vodafone’s prior written consent.“
Got that kids? Before you hit that share button make sure you get the written consent from Vodafone. Or else.
Update: 16th November 2011 – Rechecking the website Vodafone has changed the wording to allow linking (assuming they like what they see). It now reads;
“You may link to this site from other websites provided that you must permanently remove any such link if requested to do so by Vodafone in its absolute discretion. You must not otherwise reproduce, publish, perform in public, communicate to the public or make an adaptation of the Content, including audio and video excerpts, except as expressly permitted by statute or with Vodafone’s prior written consent.”
Again I’m not kidding here. These guys control some of the biggest news websites in Australia including The Brisbane Times, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. Not a day goes by when I don’t see someone post a link to one of their sites on Twitter, Facebook a blog etc. Yet deep in the bowels of their Fairfax General Conditions of Use page we find this little excerpt:
“You must not link to the Fairfax Network from any other website (or otherwise authorise any other person to link from a third party website to the Fairfax Network) without our prior written consent.“
By now no small part of Fairfax Digital’s traffic must come from links being spread via social media. These guys must be giving out a lot of letters of consent or a lot of web users are technically in the wrong.
Yes the tech giant of Australia. Surely they know enough about the internet to figure out these sort of terms & conditions are just really, really dumb? Apparently not. Behold this excerpt from the Harvey Norman Terms and Conditions page:
“We do not permit any linkages to this website without written permission.“
Get the feeling you’re going to need a filing cabinet full of written permission slips to use the internet now?
Update: 19th Aug 2011 – Rechecking the terms & conditions page today it seems Harvey Norman has quietly removed this entry. Common sense prevailed?
Update: 7th December 2011 – Harvey Norman has moved their Terms & Conditions page and has unfortunately decided to go down the slightly inane path again. It now reads:
“(2) The Publisher reserves the right to prevent third parties from linking to this website.”
Virgin Australia and V Australia
“You must obtain our written permission to make any hyperlinks with this website.“
Bugger. Seems like a lot of effort to go to simply to show my friends and family the awesome people who I choose to fly with.
Update: On the 4th of May 2011 Virgin Blue became Virgin Australia (still different to V Australia). Updated the names and link above. Name might have changed, silly terms & conditions remain the same.
“You must not link to this site without obtaining the prior written approval of Jetstar Airways or Jetstar Asia Airways“
Oh well. No traffic for you as well then I guess!
Everyone Does It!
Well no they don’t. The logic behind these terms & conditions seems to be to prevent sites these companies don’t like from linking to them and as such have gone for the lazy option of a catch-all “written consent” requirement. Other companies have a far more rational approach to things. Let’s have a look shall we?
As much as I might rubbish Optus for their terrible service in my area they do seem to have this issue figured out straight. Here’s what their Copyright Notice page has to say on the subject of linking:
“You are welcome to link to this web site“
Well that seems to sum it up pretty nicely don’t you think?
Prime Minister of Australia’s website
I honestly thought I was going to find all sorts of draconian linking rules on government websites. I was utterly wrong. They had the most readable and sensible conditions I had ever seen. Let’s have a look at the Prime Minister of Australia’s About this site which has an entire section on “Guidelines for linking to this website”. I won’t reproduce it in full here (several paragraphs worth) but it is worth the read if for nothing else this statement:
“Deep linking is permitted, however this can create maintenance overheads as the page to which you link may become unavailable or move“
Again simple facts. Yes you can link, just be aware that your links may break in the future if they move things around. Pretty straight forward statement is it not?
I’d love to hear about what other inane website terms & agreements you’ve stumbled across. This “anti-linking” ones particularly caught my eye since they effectively entirely defeat the purpose of having a website especially in today’s age of social media link sharing.
Do you think we can somehow convince the companies listed above they need to hire a law firm maybe just vaguely in touch with today’s internet? That just maybe catch-all terms & conditions make you look like a company that thinks faxes are still the pinnacle of communication?
Oh and yes. Please feel free to link this article anywhere you like.