No Link For You! – Inane Australian Website Terms & Conditions

Earlier this morning I was reading a post on a UK blog entitled “15 more sites that forbid you from linking to them“. After having a chuckle at the list and the stupidity of trying stop people linking to your website I got thinking “Surely Australian websites aren’t this silly are they?”. Oh how wrong I was.

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.

Don’t Link Here

I kept the idea basic. Find Australian websites that had Terms & Conditions that either banned or inanely denied you linking to their website. I did not have to go far. And yes I am breaking their terms & conditions by linking their terms & conditions pages here. The irony does not escape me.

Vodafone AU This is one of my favorites. It’s the age of the social web, Vodafone Australia is active on twitter and nearly every single page on their website has a “Share” button with which to spread the link to your friends on a myriad of social networks. Surely these guys have a sane linking policy? Not according to their Web Site and Online Services Terms of Use page (emphasis mine):

“You must not however reproduce, frame, transmit (including broadcast), adapt, link to or otherwise use any of the Content, including audio and video excerpts, except as expressly permitted by statute or with Vodafone’s prior written consent.“

Got that kids? Before you hit that share button make sure you get the written consent from Vodafone. Or else.

Fairfax Digital Again I’m not kidding here. These guys control some of the biggest news websites in Australia including The Brisbane Times, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. Not a day goes by when I don’t see someone post a link to one of their sites on Twitter, Facebook a blog etc. Yet deep in the bowels of their Fairfax General Conditions of Use page we find this little excerpt:

“You must not link to the Fairfax Network from any other website (or otherwise authorise any other person to link from a third party website to the Fairfax Network) without our prior written consent.“

By now no small part of Fairfax Digital’s traffic must come from links being spread via social media. These guys must be giving out a lot of letters of consent or a lot of web users are technically in the wrong.

Harvey Norman Yes the tech giant of Australia. Surely they know enough about the internet to figure out these sort of terms & conditions are just really, really dumb? Apparently not. Behold this excerpt from the Harvey Norman Terms and Conditions page:

“We do not permit any linkages to this website without written permission.“

Get the feeling you’re going to need a filing cabinet full of written permission slips to use the internet now?

Virgin Blue and V Australia This one honestly came as a big shock to me. I love these guys. I use their services all the time, they are very active & friendly on twitter and are possibly one of the most customer friendly companies I know. However if you want to link them to your friends you’re apparently out of luck according to the Terms of Use/Site Disclaimer page:

“You must obtain our written permission to make any hyperlinks with this website.“

Bugger. Seems like a lot of effort to go to simply to show my friends and family the awesome people that I choose to fly with.

JetStar Fortunately for Virgin their competition isn’t much better at this game either. Their Terms of use page even has an sub heading about linking to them but unfortunately the meat of the statement is:

“You must not link to this site without obtaining the prior written approval of Jetstar Airways or Jetstar Asia Airways“

Oh well. No traffic for you as well then I guess!

Everyone Does It!

Well no they don’t. The logic behind these terms & conditions seems to be to prevent sites these companies don’t like from linking to them and as such have gone for the lazy option of a catch all “written consent” requirement. Other companies have a far more rational approach to things. Let’s have a look shall we?

Optus As much as I might rubbish Optus for their terrible service in my area they do seem to have this issue figured out straight. Here’s what their Copyright Notice page has to say on the subject of linking:

“You are welcome to link to this web site“

Well that seems to sum it up pretty nicely don’t you think?

Prime Minister of Australia’s website I honestly thought I was going to find all sorts of draconian linking rules on government websites. I was utterly wrong. They had the most readable and sensible conditions I had ever seen. Let’s have a look at the Prime Minister of Australia’s About this site which has an entire secition on “Guidelines for linking to this website”. I won’t reproduce it in full here (several paragraphs worth) but it is worth the read if for nothing else this statement:

“Deep linking is permitted, however this can create maintenance overheads as the page to which you link may become unavailable or move“

Again simple facts. Yes you can link, just be aware that your links may break in the future if they move things around. Pretty straight forward statement is it not?

Feedback

I’d love to hear about what other inane website terms & agreements you’ve stumbled across. This “anti-linking” ones particularly caught my eye since they effectively entirely defeat the purpose of having a website especially in today’s age of social media link sharing.

Do you think we can somehow convince the companies listed above they need to hire a law firm maybe just vaguely in touch with today’s internet? That just maybe catch all terms & conditions make you look like a company that thinks faxes are still the pinnacle of communication?

Oh and yes. Please feel free to link this article anywhere you like.

Daniel McNamara is an antipodean steampunk geek, amateur photographer, licensed reptile keeper and zombie film lover from Brisbane. This post originally appeared on his siteDawnstar Australis.

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