[Bad] CouchSurfing may revoke the right to link to them

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Michiel de Jong

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Sep 24, 2012, 10:39:37 AM9/24/12
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that's weird. fair enough that 'couchsurfing' may be a trademark, but
how can a website prohibit other websites to link to it? that breaks
the architecture of the web.

"You are granted a limited, non-exclusive right to create a text
hyperlink to the Services, provided such link does not portray
CouchSurfing or any of our services in a false, misleading, derogatory
or otherwise defamatory manner and provided further that the linking
site does not contain any adult or illegal material or any material
that is offensive, harassing or otherwise objectionable. This limited
right may be revoked at any time."

Is their website's URL so precious that it shall go unspoken? I
understand they have a right not to be spoken about in a hateful or
misleading way (that should be covered by libel, hate speak and
similar law, right?), but i don't think they can forbid other people
to speak about them just because they say in their terms that they may
revoke the right to link to them at any time. i wonder why this clause
is there?

Duck X

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Sep 25, 2012, 3:26:30 PM9/25/12
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It's probably not entirely enforceable. However, a court in Denmark ruled that deep linking to another website was copyright infringement.

Michiel de Jong

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Sep 30, 2012, 3:31:30 AM9/30/12
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right, i can imagine two reasons why they put this in - especially because of the preceding paragraph, it might be because of the 'false, misleading, derogatory or otherwise defamatory manner' in which you link to them.

it could indeed also be because if you deeplink than you could basically scrape their site and make a profit by making information available that they hold copyright on and you do not.

in particular, there is a common practice in file sharing to set up one site that "only" holds the links and a separate site that "only" hosts the data, with the goal that none of the two are actually fully "hosting" the (possibly copyright-infringing) files - one is only hosting links and the other is only hosting data blobs. i think that's a different issue though.

anyway, we can guess at why that clause is there, but the best way to find out is just to ask them. They are proposing this agreement, so hopefully they can comment on its content. I'll see what i can find out and post back here on this thread.

Cheers,
Michiel.

Duck X

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Sep 30, 2012, 2:13:40 PM9/30/12
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It doesn't make sense to prohibit people from linking to external websites, otherwise there would be no Internet. Linking is like a cop giving you directions from New York to Boston; copying is like actually making a copy of Boston and inserting it into New York. Which doesn't make any sense :)

Philip L Marcus

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Sep 30, 2012, 4:06:34 PM9/30/12
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At least under US law, one cannot hold a copyright on historical or
newsworthy fact or "information", only on the aggregation or expression (the
gathering and writing). Apparently they seek to protect something not
protected by copyright, and to do so by contract--by TOS. If one does what
the Web consists of--hyperlinking--they will prohibit you from using their site.
But the links will remain.

Date sent: Sun, 30 Sep 2012 11:13:40 -0700 (PDT)
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Subject: [tosdr:948] Re: [Bad] CouchSurfing may revoke the right to link to them
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Michiel de Jong

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Oct 6, 2012, 5:01:10 AM10/6/12
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ok, i got a reply from them, what this is about is travel websites
that have 'accomodation search' linking to couchsurfing. they don't
want that to happen. they will not use this clause against you if you
just blog about them.

i guess this is about deeplinking to specific offers and/or iframing
couchsurfing's content in a context, not about linking to the
couchsurfing home page i think.

i think a couchsurfing offer is not a historical or newsworthy fact,
and i think this exposes the absurdity of web 2.0, where publishing
tools claim copyright over user content.

i guess they can prohibit other sites from quoting copyrighted
information only if they are the owners/authors, right? if they only
get a non-exclusive license to user content, then how can they have
anything to say over others displaying it?

can you prohibit other sites from deeplinking to specific search
results on your site?

i think there was a similar case where google was displaying tweets
from twitter as 'real time results' on their search results page, and
iirc, twitter was able to stop them from doing that.

Hugo Roy

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Oct 6, 2012, 6:32:07 AM10/6/12
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Le samedi 06 octobre 2012 à 11:01 +0200, Michiel de Jong a écrit :
> ok, i got a reply from them, what this is about is travel websites
> that have 'accomodation search' linking to couchsurfing. they don't
> want that to happen. they will not use this clause against you if you
> just blog about them.

We should not get fooled. This is not what the clause says. This
interpretation is not binding and seems like just an excuse for terms of
bad quality.

> i guess this is about deeplinking to specific offers and/or iframing
> couchsurfing's content in a context, not about linking to the
> couchsurfing home page i think.

The clause says linking, right? Is there a definition of linking
anywhere? If not, then assume it's the standard definition of linking,
i.e. to write somewhere on the web a <a
href="http://couchsurfing.org">link</a>.

> i think a couchsurfing offer is not a historical or newsworthy fact,
> and i think this exposes the absurdity of web 2.0, where publishing
> tools claim copyright over user content.
>
> i guess they can prohibit other sites from quoting copyrighted
> information only if they are the owners/authors, right?

No because quoting text is covered by the exceptions to copyright law
(or fair use in the US).

> if they only
> get a non-exclusive license to user content, then how can they have
> anything to say over others displaying it?
>
> can you prohibit other sites from deeplinking to specific search
> results on your site?
>
> i think there was a similar case where google was displaying tweets
> from twitter as 'real time results' on their search results page, and
> iirc, twitter was able to stop them from doing that.

IIRC there was an agreement between google and twitter, then they didn't
pursue it. But I think seriously this issue is getting too far. We're
trying to make assumptions, whereas if you read the clause in question,
it's rather simple and stupid. There was actually a website making fun
of all these silly clauses forbidding people to make links.

I propose, if we summarise this point, to write a title like:
Absurd: they claim the right to forbid you to link to them

or something like this.

--
Hugo Roy
French Coordinator, FSFE chat: hu...@jabber.fsfe.org
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mobile DE: +49 151 143 56 563

Robin Monks

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Dec 5, 2012, 8:44:42 AM12/5/12
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I see these kinds of terms in a lot of ToS; it seems incredibly stupid and a large attempt and hindering free speech rights by companies.  If there is a entry in tos;dr for this, it should likely contain a small "article" explaining fair use and free speech in a few targeted countries to allow people to remain informed.

/Robin

Ian McGowan

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Dec 9, 2012, 1:12:28 PM12/9/12
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I've made a note of this ridiculous point. Consider it curated.

Aidan F

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Dec 9, 2012, 1:53:44 PM12/9/12
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They can't "give you the right" to link, but they can make you agree not to link.

----
Aidan "Duck X" Fitzgerald
Promoting freedom on #ourweb, everyday.



Robin Monks

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Dec 9, 2012, 2:08:44 PM12/9/12
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I'm guessing their logic here would be to see a page to link to use must use their website which makes you automatically agree to their terms. If that's enforceable in court it's horribly unfair to the user.
--
President, Podhurl Inc.
Drupal Association Individual Member

Live in such a way that those who know you but don't know God, will come to know God because they know you.

Aidan F

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Dec 9, 2012, 2:13:34 PM12/9/12
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You can't agree to the terms just by landing on the home page since you haven't seen them yet.

----
Aidan "Duck X" Fitzgerald
Promoting freedom on #ourweb, everyday.



Robin Monks

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Dec 9, 2012, 2:16:44 PM12/9/12
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So phrases like "PLEASE READ THESE TERMS OF USE CAREFULLY. BY CLICKING "SIGN UP" OR BY ACCESSING OR USING THE SERVICES, YOU AGREE TO BE BOUND BY THESE TERMS OF USE AND ALL TERMS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE." are unenforceable?

/Robin

Aidan F

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Dec 9, 2012, 2:28:47 PM12/9/12
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There's controversy. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shrink_wrap_contract.

----
Aidan "Duck X" Fitzgerald
Promoting freedom on #ourweb, everyday.



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