Aside

Still No Link For You! – More Inane Website Terms & Conditions

Back in March I wrote an article on Inane Terms & Conditions on Australian websites, namely those that “prohibited” linking to those sites. Seems silly doesn’t it? These entities actually have laid out rules in their terms and conditions to somehow prevent people linking to them. Given the concept of the internet is to be able to provide interlinking data this seems all a bit silly. Now that it’s been a while I thought it might be time to revisit this subject and see if anything has changed.

The Good News

Firstly the good news. At least two of the entities I called out in the last article have changed their website terms and conditions to allow linking. Harvey Norman quietly removed the section that prevented linking altogether whilst Vodafone amended theirs to allow linking as long you agreed to remove it if they didn’t like it.

The Bad News

Only one entity in the last list actually reached out to me about it and that was Virgin Australia. Their social media team were very friendly and tried to blow it off as simply a “precautionary” measure which raises the question why is it there at all? Why not take the Vodafone, approach and allow links on the acceptance they can ask for it to be removed? More importantly how are they ever going to actually enforce this precautionary measure? I doubt very much these terms and conditions would go far in a court of law although I am not a lawyer and don’t pretend to understand the complexities of law.

The other two entities, Fairfax and JetStar, have not changed their terms & conditions in any way. By now millions of people must have violated the Fairfax terms and conditions hundreds of times over.

The New List

So with all that in mind it was time to go hunting for new sites that have the same inane prohibitions. Initially I was thrilled to find that it was getting harder to find them. This didn’t last long however. A quick shoutout asking for suggested sites to check quickly resulted in a deluge of sites that continue to deny linking. Before you ask yes I am technically breaking their terms & conditions by linking their terms & conditions pages here. The irony does not escape me

Qantas

What is it with airlines and prohibiting linking to their sites? Qantas doesn’t exactly have the best reputation at the moment after their little “lets ground all our planes to win a dispute” stunt so you’d think they’d be doing everything possible to help promote their brand. Seemingly not. If you want to link to the Qantas website then you need to follow this rather lengthy piece of instruction from their Terms of Use page:

“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”

Got that? Give them all of your personal details, submit it to a faceless form and then maybe, if they like you, you might be able to link to their site.

Air Australia

Australia’s newest airline. So new in fact it hasn’t even started flying yet. Being new they are also hip to this social media thing with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Blogger integration! But if you want to link to them? Oh sorry the Terms of Use page has this to to say:

“You must not provide a link to, or frame, this website without our prior written consent.”

Going to be interesting promoting a brand new airline when you legally disallow linking to it.

Update: 17th of February 2012 – Air Australia went into voluntary administration leaving some four thousand passengers stranded. They also removed most of the website including these rather inane terms & conditions.

Myer

Yes that giant of shopping. That mecca of splurging and spending cash. They are well and truly into the Christmas sales pitch now (which is a rant for another day) and with it their website is festooned with gift ideas and products galore many of with Facebook “Like” buttons and “Share by  Tweet” functionality. Before you touch either however you should be aware that Website Terms page states:

“Myer Pty Ltd does not permit any linkages to this site without prior permission.”

This of course raises the interesting question – does the existence of the like and share buttons imply permission? If so is linking only allowed through those mechanisms? This sounds like the sort of things that keep lawyers well paid.

Suncorp

Unlike Qantas, Suncorp is actually surfing a very large wave of consumer approval after floods earlier in the year. Their excellent PR and handling of the situation has paid off extremely well for them and they are going out of their way to utilise as much of this good sentiment as possible. Apparently this does not extend to linking their website as their Legal Disclaimer page outlines:

“Linking to this Website is only permitted when authorised in writing by Suncorp. Please contact Suncorp if you would like to link to any part of the Suncorp Website.”

The idea that one needs a written permission slip to link to anything on the internet is laughable especially when it might be a site you actually want to link to.

Update – 2012-12-19

So this article has been up for over a year. Suddenly apparently it’s a problem for Suncorp who fail to understand irony as they sent me this request (in a vaguely demanding manner) to remove the link to their site:

This rather proves my point about the stupidity of it. However if they want to get silly about it I’ll remove the link. The link above now goes to a shortner that goes to the link. I am no longer directly linking the content. Enjoy!

Oh and the digital agency that Suncorp has farmed this out to? Yeah their website doesn’t seem to have a no linking terms and conditions requirement so I’m just going to link it right here.

Update 2013-01-31

Sigh. Despite the fact I did email AmensiaRazorfish as per the original email and I did remove the “offending” link the silly gits have just spammed me with the same email. Apparently they don’t have sufficient brain cells to figure out how to make it stop.

Oh and for the record Suncorp Bank is a different brand to Suncorp Insurance. The bank component got all upset about being singled out on twitter last time. Not that it really matters because the Suncorp Bank website links to exactly the same terms & conditions page.

Update 2013-02-05

So there’s been a slightly more happy development in this. Just got an email from the folks at AmensiaRazorfish who apologised for the second email (apparently I should have been removed from the list) and I should see no more of this sillyness for a while.

No mention of the stupidity of the actual linking policy but given it is Suncorp’s policy and not theirs this is entirely fair enough.

AAMI

This is not really surprising since AAMI is part of the Suncorp Group. Weirdly however they take the prohibition a step further by actually singling out social media linking as being not on. Here’s the excerpt from their AAMI Online Terms of Use & Privacy Statement:

“Unauthorised linking to any part of an Online Site (including any part of a Social Media Site or website operated by a related body corporate that is part of the Suncorp Group) is expressly prohibited. Please contact us if you would like to link to any part of our Online Site(s). Only written permission from us will constitute authorisation of a link.”

More demands for written permission slips. I don’t think they’ve grasped the idea of this internet thing.

RACQ and RACV

Both of these entities have an active presence on Facebook and Twitter Both encourage their followers to retweet/share links. Both technically prohibit their followers from actually doing this.

From the RACQ Site Legals page:

” You agree not to create a link from any Web site, including any site controlled by you, to our site.”

Update: 16th of November 2011 – In what must be a new world record in getting legal changes made to a website the RACQ team has completely pulled this term from their site within hours of this article going up. Nice work guys!

And from the RACV Conditions of use page:

“What you cannot do: … provide a link to this web site from another web site without RACV’s prior written consent.”

Update: 17th of November 2011 – Correction. Initially I thought this was an update – the above entry still exists and the below one may have always existed and I simply missed it yesterday.

“7. linking to this web site

7.1 If you wish to establish a link to this web site you must, in the first instance, use the Contact Us link at the top of the page and provide the following information:

a) the URL of the web site that you seek to establish a link from;

b) a brief description of your web site; and

c) the reason that you wish to establish a link.

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

Yep that should work out wonderfully for you.

Conclusion

Many entities still have this strange idea they can control things on the internet by simply stating it in their terms and conditions. Sorry but it just doesn’t work that way. I’m hoping more of them will follow the examples set by Harvey Norman and Vodafone (never thought I’d say that) and adjust their terms and conditions to be far more realistic.

Update: 7th December 2011 – Alas Harvey Norman has updated their Terms & Conditions have brought inane conditions back in. I can no longer give them props for being sane.