If You Link To Me I’ll Sue You!

by Paul Wilson


backlinks03jpgHave you ever wondered what the web would be if it was run by lawyers? Nah, me neither, but I received a tiny glimpse of what it might look like when a friend emailed me Advanstar’s Terms of Use for Linking. My friend wanted to be sure that her company was compliant to Advanstar’s Gestapo like terms.

At first, I thought my friend was kidding. Then I read Advanstar’s terms. My favorite is:

“Advanstar may at any time, in its sole discretion, without cause, revoke your right to link to any pages on this Site. In such event upon request, you agree to immediately remove all links to this Site”

I am sure that by willing it Advanstar can force people to stop linking to them. The statement makes it sound like they control the whims of the web.

Yet, I do understand their logic behind overpaying some lawyer to write this. They hope to deter spammers from stealing their content, but really, how effective is this?

I did a quick search query on this exact question and found Don’t Link to Us!. The site is a bit outdated (like seven years) but it does a great job poking fun at all the corporate yokels who feel they can mandate what the web does or does not do.

To me, the whole idea of a controlling who links to you underscores the real issue of the corporate mindset on the Internet. A lot of large corporations feel that if they cannot force you into their neat little box than they don’t want to play. Many companies have  lost the understanding (or maybe never really had it) of who makes them money—the consumer.

A good example of this is Sony CEO Howard Stringer’s recent comments about how he hates the Internet. His hatred stems from the simple fact that web users do not conform to his idea of how the Internet should be managed.

I shared with my friend that Advanstar’s Linking Terms were similar to Howard Stringer’s feelings on the web. Basically, if they don’t like you they are going to try to push you off the playground and make you go home. However, neither company nor individual have realized that such corporate tantrums rarely work on the Internet. Mainly, because the consumer/user has finally been given a voice to fight against such childishness.

The world, particularly the cyber world, is evolving and changing much faster than what some people/organizations want. However, if science has taught us anything about evolution, it has taught us that those who don’t survive are those who don’t change with an evolving environment. My advice to corporate America:  The glory days of dominating your will onto the end user is over. Either adapt or die!

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