Thou Shalt Not Link Without Permission

Published on 15 October 2003 in ,

Whilst looking at Pace’s website today, I spotted a small discrete link at the bottom proclaiming "Policy on Lining to Pace websites".

Intrigued I thought I’d take a look. What I found was…

"If you wish to link to and/or frame any content of this website you are required to seek Pace’s written permission prior to doing so. Requests to link or frame the contents of our site should be made to Pace’s Web Master"

So funny I almost fell about in hysterics. It reeks of a statement written by one of those people who just doesn’t have a clue about how the web works – that the advent of the hyperlink built the leg; that a link is little more than a reference to another location – akin to a page number shoing the location of a paragraph in a book.

Of course there are issues revolving around link text – the language which is used in that link – there could easily be legal issues if I linked off to someone elses website with the words ‘this man killed by dog’, especially if it wasn’t true – but similar parallels exist in the print world. I could be in a lot of trouble if I referenced a paragraph of a book or brochure and said something untrue about the person in that reference.

Whilst there is a possibility of controlling, in certain circumstances, the content of such references, you cannot physically control the presence of the reference. I can happily tell you to look at page 45 of Bill Bryson’s book ‘Made in America’ without problem, just as I can link quite happily to the technical specs of Pace’s personal video recorder. I don’t have to ask either for permission to do it, nor is there any legal recourse that Pace can do for me doing so as I am not doing anything illegal.

The notion that people can control the presence of a hyperlink is of course farcical, and part of me can’t resist emailing the Pace webmaster and specifically asking to have my permission to use a link to their website rejected to see what they will do. Of course they will do nothing and nor can they. And if they can do nothing, why bother having a statement telling you you need permission to link to their site.

As an interesting aside, I notice that the manufacturers page on the Freeview website links to the Pace website. I do hope they asked permission….