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Ridiculous legal disclaimers on websites

October 12, 2009GeorgeAll posts1

Recently, I was asked to update a selection of legal pages on a website. The changes were, largely, dull as batshit. However, one bullet point stood out for me in terms of utter stupidity:

f) Hyperlinks:
You may not create a hyperlink to this website without our prior written consent.

A bit of searching unearthed a whole bunch of sites that use this wording on their legal or T&C pages! Boing Boing recently posted about something similar about the T&Cs for the new Vegemite site. Firstly – and call me Mr Silly if you like – but this is completely ridiculous. It is:

  • Unenforcable
  • Completely unrealistic
  • Against the nature of the web
  • If the website is a commercial/retail concern, it’s actually a hindrance

Unenforcable because, being the Internet, anyone can link to anything – much in the same way that anyone can step out of their house and say anything they like to whomever they like in the street.

Unrealistic because you can’t stop people linking to wherever they want from wherever they want.

Against the nature of the web because it’s meant to be a free-speech platform*. Unless you live in N.Korea or China, of course.

If the website is a commercial/retail site, not allowing inbound links is like saying you don’t want to sell anything: people linking to your site is one of the main ways other people will find you and people spread the word.

Finally, having content like that on a site makes the organisation look completely behind the times in terms of how they understand the world (and more importantly the Internet) to work.

*: Yes I know there’s lots of stuff going on with bogus DMCA takedowns and similar, but – generally speaking – people can say what they like.

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One Comment

  1. RichardOctober 14, 2009 at 11:08 am

    The major downfall of that clause is…people can link to your website without visiting it. In my experience, I’d say it was the company’s legal department doing what they do best without actually understanding how the Internet works (as you say).

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