Aside

No Link for You! – Olympic Inane Terms & Conditions

I’ve written twice before about inane terms and conditions on Australian websites that attempt to restrict or block linking to those sites. Sometimes these terms and conditions clash directly with the websites own social media attempts. In all cases they are laughably stupid and utterly unenforceable.

[notice]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. And yes I am breaking their terms & conditions by linking their terms & conditions pages here. The irony does not escape me[/notice]

Olympic Fever

So it should come as no real surprise that the story running around the web today that the official website for the London 2012 Olympic games has an inane entry in their terms and conditions forbidding linking unless you say something nice according to their Terms of use page:

 “5. Linking policy

a. Links to the Site. You may create your own link to the Site, provided that your link is in a text-only format. You may not use any link to the Site as a method of creating an unauthorised association between an organisation, business, goods or services and London 2012, and agree that no such link shall portray us or any other official London 2012 organisations (or our or their activities, products or services) in a false, misleading, derogatory or otherwise objectionable manner. The use of our logo or any other Olympic or London 2012 Mark(s) as a link to the Site is not permitted. View our guidelines on Use of the Games’ Marks.”

The restriction on logo use makes sense, that’s a valid copyright issue but preventing people from linking if they might not say something nice about you? Have fun trying to enforce that one guys.

Branding, Branding, Branding

This is where most of the outrage stops and people just sit there fuming. I thought it might be fun to check out the terms and conditions of the brands partnered with the Olympics as outlined on their partners page.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that most of the brands had sensible terms and conditions that really only covered them legally in regards to outbound links from their sites and didn’t really interfere with incoming ones. As always there were some stuck in the legal stone age of the web, and here they are.

 Omega

Known for their very fine (and very expensive) timepieces you’d think they would be more than happy for people to link to them. Apparently not so much according to their legal page:

“…Reproducing (in whole or in part), transmitting (by electronic means or otherwise), modifying, linking into or using for any public or commercial purpose the OMEGAWATCHES.COM Website without prior written permission of OMEGA S.A. is strictly prohibited.”

Once again attempting to prohibit “linking into” – this appears to be boilerplate legal advice that most websites have dropped over the last decade or so.

adidas

The worldwide shoe company that has run more than a few social media campaigns apparently really, really doesn’t want people linking to their site unless they give you express consent according to their Terms and conditions page:

“…or the creation of links, hypertext, links or deeplinks between the Site and any other internet site, is prohibited without the express written consent of adidas.”

Got that? Before you tweet that link to your new favourite shoes make sure you’ve got an official written notice. Or else.

BP

Given BP’s history no one should be really all that surprised that their London 2012 partner site demands you get written permission before linking as spelled out in their Legal Notice page:

“You may not frame this site nor link to a page other than the home page without our express permission.”

We should point out that every single page on the website encourages you to share it via multiple means but doesn’t provide “express permission’ for you to do so.

British Airways

They have decided that not only can’t you link to their website but that they can also remove links from other websites if they don’t say nice things Website terms and conditions page:

“You may only link to this website with Our express written permission. We expressly reserve the right to withdraw Our consent at any time to a link which in Our sole opinion is inappropriate or controversial.”

I have not yet had a single company explain exactly how they ever intend to enforce the ‘remove that not very nice link” reserved right.

EDF

Frankly I had never even heard of this corporation before now and after the Olympics probably never will again but they seem like your normal pretty reasonable energy company, nothing to be overly concerned about. When it comes to linking to their website however they are very serious business indeed as their Legal notices page makes quite clear:

“Under no circumstances may a user set up a hypertext link to the www.edf.com portal without the prior written consent of EDF. Any requests to do so must be addressed to the Publishing Director of the www.edf.com portal.”

Got it? Under no circumstances. Not even if you think they are awesome and doing a great job. NO CIRCUMSTANCES ALLOW THIS. Ahem.

Adecco

Another company I have never heard of but apparently in the job recruitment game. They have a kind of odd policy. It’s ok to link but only if you say nice things and even then only the front page. Nothing else according to their Terms and conditions page:

“You may link to our home page, provided you do so in a way that is fair and legal and does not damage our reputation or take advantage of it, but you must not establish a link in such a way as to suggest any form of association, approval or endorsement on our part where none exists.

You must not establish a link from any website that is not owned by you.

Our site(s) must not be framed on any other site, nor may you create a link to any part of our site(s) other than the home page. We reserve the right to withdraw linking permission without notice.”

 Again that second paragraph indicates that anyone that wished to link to them from say Twitter or Facebook would be in deep trouble.

ArcelorMittal

Writing this article I’m learning way more about British companies than I expected and I’m sure these guys are very important but they have a very strange approach to linking policies as laid out in their Terms of use page:

“Links to this Web Site are allowed, provided that ArcelorMittal is informed prior to the publication of the link: contact@arcelormittal.com. ArcelorMittal reserves the right to withdraw this permission in the future. By receiving information about such links, ArcelorMittal makes no judgment or warranty with respect to the Web Sites providing such links and ArcelorMittal takes no responsibility for these Web Sites.”

So links are allowed but only if you tell them about the links before hand and even then they might still take them away from you. So basically not really allowed.

Summary

The good news is a bulk of the official Olympic partners and supporters do not share the same “no link for you unless we say so” attitude  as the London Games website itself. The bad news is there is clearly more than a few corporations and lawyers out there that seem to think they can enforce these utterly inane terms and conditions.

Surprise Extras!

Because I primarily like to focus on Australian content I’ll be added some other inane terms and conditions on the sites belonging to partners of the Australian Olympic Committee as shown in their sponsors page.

Qantas

Ok this one isn’t actually that surprising since they haven’t changed their Terms of Use page since we wrote about it 10 months ago. To give you a refresher however:

“In order to be able to link to information on this site you will need to agree to the linking conditions and obtain approval from Qantas Online Sales. To obtain a copy of the agreement send a request through our feedback page by selecting ‘Website’ then ‘Site Content’. Ensure your e-mail contains the following information:

  • Company Name
  • Contact Name
  • E-mail Address
  • URL of internet site that will link to qantas.com
  • Nature of your company’s web site”

See nice and easy right? Just follow the many, many step program and you may or may not be allowed to link to them. Eventually. Some day.

Australia Post

So this is where things got a little deja vu on my and I had to check I was looking at the right page. Their Website terms and conditions entry on linking looks awfully familiar:

“If you wish to establish a link to this website, you must first seek approval from Australia Post. To seek approval, please contact your account manager. If you don’t have one or are unsure, please email Australia Post’s brand team.

The following information will be required to assess your request:

  • the URL of the website that you seek to establish a link from
  • a brief description of your website
  • the reason that you wish to establish a link.

If Australia Post agrees to your proposed link, you must comply with any terms and conditions imposed by Australia Post as a condition of such agreement. If the nature and/or content of your website changes in any significant way, you must contact Australia Post and provide a new description of your website.”

Someone been hiring the same lawyers that work for Qantas maybe?

KRAFT Australia

Provider of food in many weird and varied ways including that Australian icon Vegemite. They even have recipes you can share with your friends… just don’t link to them as clearly stated in their disclaimer page:

 “….You are also prohibited from linking the site to another web site in any way whatsoever.”

No link for you. NO LINK FOR YOU. Got that absolutely no link whatsoever for you.