Can You Really Take Search Engine and Technology News Seriously?

 
Krak

There is currently a case running in the Danish courts that will effectively decide the law in Denmark for linking to a page other than a home page, typically known as deep linking.
We are not talking about hot-linking, pulling an image or video off someone else’s server into the middle of your own content, but linking as you might to this blog article, using the permalink.

There is a mapping company in Denmark that creates web pages based on other people’s data, such as a company address, and provides maps on how to get there.
They then bury deep within their terms and conditions a link to another page that states that they will charge you money if you link to one of their map pages without permission.

I suppose that is similar to me adding a terms and conditions page, and from that a linking page stating that anyone who links to my blog has to pay me $1000.

Sounds like a lot of money doesn’t it?

Krak.dk only charge $940

Krak.dk have been forced / encouraged by their previous outing on Digg’s front page to not charge a blogger for linking to a map, as long as they are not for profit, and providing they ask permission first. As of this writing however I am led to believe they haven’t changed their official paperwork on their site, or improved their notification on the content pages that you could be charged $1000 linking to information about themselves.

Business sites however are not in the clear, and one is currently fighting “the just cause” for the rest of internet users, but is having their plight ignored.

Paul O’Flahery recently wrote:-

The court case between Gauguin (an auctioneer house) and Krak.dk is now well underway and I’m eagerly awaiting the outcome of this. The case is getting good coverage in the Danish blogosphere (just check out Overskrift), and well it should as the outcome of this case could affect us all.

Unfortunately this hasn’t been picked up by any major Search Engine news site, or A – List Blogger.

The consequences of Krak winning this court battle, and maybe for the ruling to have a knock on effect across Europe are extremely serious, and could damage the way the internet works.

Websites would again become insular, not linking where credit is due simply because noone has time to search for hidden terms and conditions requiring you to pay $1000 just to link to a page.

I did my own analysis of all the links currently going to Krak.dk internal pages – their sugar trap will possibly net them $6m if they win.

Here is the current statement of the rules from Krak AFTER all the coverage from the last 2 weeks.

Official Krak answer:
Every blogger in the world is welcome to use deep links to Krak maps for free. But please ask us.
When it comes to commercial use, Krak has the same policy as Google and others. You cannot use our copyrighted maps without asking.
Krak alone decides whether the use is commercial or not.
In the actual case, the site by nature looks like a blog, but may in fact be a business, so we decided he had to pay.
If we were wrong, and if the blogger in question in fact is not selling anything (no animals or accessories), we will reconsider.

Best regards,

Poul Moeller
Kraks Forlag A/S

  • This is more serious than a small tweak to a search engine’s algorithm
  • A change in the terms for Google Adsense is insignificant compared
  • The latest start-up from “Demo” is inconsequential
  • Hell this is bigger news than Robert Scoble talking at a new PayPerPost gig (and for the record I respect Robert for doing so, and for his disclosure)
  • And for search, no matter how important people might think Wikipedia is, I guarantee the ability to freely link to any web page is of much higher consequence.
  • I am not sure how this compares with Britney Spears or Paris Hilton up the skirt pics, but imagine you couldn’t link to the site that just listed them?
  • I am not sure how this compares in importance for global warming – hell if people couldn’t link to each other, maybe the internet would become less attractive, and we would all plant more trees.
  • Windows Vista? Well you can always read an opinion on Paul’s blog about how his better half liked it (a non-geek)

Maybe I should spend the next hour checking every page of Paul’s blog in Denmark just in case he has a hidden charge for linking to his. I don’t have to do that because he is a normal sane person running a normal legitimate business and doesn’t need to trap people into paying him money.

Seriously, this story need some main-stream international press coverage.

 

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Comments

  1. Poul Moeller says

    This will actually be the third ruling on this type of cases in Denmark alone. Right now the case in question is only about the payment itself, but Krak is trying to get a major court to accept the case.

    There have been several in Europe over the last few years. Most of them actually goes against the deep linking practice. Not against the possibility of doing deep links, but in order to protect the content of the databases in question. You may disagree, I am only referring the facts.

    Most EU member countries have ratified the EU directive 96/9/EC on the protection of database content. The company often claimed to have won a case on deep linking in Denmark (OFIR) actually won the case, because the database was not a database as defined in the EU directive. It was not really about deep linking. But it appears according to the ruling that you can deep link to a database that is not (“sweat of the brow” nor “sui generis”) original. Krak’s on the other hand is at the least “sui generis” original.

    What Krak acutally did, was to open up for private people and non commercial sites to use a service, that until recently has been a paid service for all users.

    Just to offer a little perspective….

  2. says

    The problem with this Poul, is that firstly, if you don’t want people to link to URLs on your site then there are easy methods implementable via the current established software and technology of the internet. Not using these established methods (and I know your company is aware of them as you block archive.org from scraping your site) is a cop out, plain and simple.

    Also, you stated on my blog and on Digg that com that you’ve changed your policy on private users linking, but as of yet have not updated Krak.dk to reflect the alleged new policy or inform users that such a policy exists.

    If you want an example of how to properly implent this check out Flickr and their TOS links on the bottom of their pages.

    What you still have here is a “sugar-trap”, plain and simple.

    Also, as a side note, Poul. You surround your maps with advertising on every URL. You also scrape the names, adresses and other information from Danish companies and use them to generate income via the advertising around your maps without asking their permission. Now, it can be assumed that the specific URLS to maps on your service have little to no value without being able to display the address of the company that is being requested. Don’t you think its hypocritical of your comany to make money off of their names without asking permission in the first place.

    You may so no! You may say it’s free advertising for them and a good service. They and I will tell you that them linking to URLs on Krak is providing your service with more value, free advertising and potential advertising views.

    But not only do you want the free advertising, you want folks to pay for linking to their own information which you are using without permission.

    After all, you’ve got my company listed and I NEVER recieved so much as an email asking if you could. And their is a copyright notification on the bottom of my companies site.

  3. Poul Moeller says

    Mr. O’Flaherty, I understand you are very unhappy with the fact that you brought a lot of trouble upon a customers of yours by using a deep link to Krak, and that you want to make things right. I would be unhappy too. But concerning this customers of yours you already have helped him out of the trouble. He got an apology from Krak, and the invoice was shredded.

    But I’m afraid your anger towards Krak – which I cannot understand – complety blinds you. Some of the stuff you write is down right untrue. I do believe I have some insight concerning business models on the internet, and my knowledge of legal issues could surely be better, but at least I have some – and I don’t agree with you. I hope I am entitled to that.

    You write under the impression that Krak is populated with fools, and they dont know a thing about the internet. Given Kraks position this makes no sense, and I really dont care much for further discussions with you. I try to understand your situation. You don’t care to do the same. Discussion is meaningless.

  4. says

    Poul, first off, I don’t believe that Kraks is “populated with fools” and I’m sorry if I give this impression. Your web team at Krak.dk is obviously quite intelligent and good at what they do, after all, they have a heavily visited web site that is apparently always up and very responsive.

    Second, I hold no direct “anger” towards Krak.dk or Kraks Forlag AS, or anybody employed there. I’m well aware that you’ve shredded the invoice which was to be sent to Per Kaarup (he’s not a customer by the way, he’s a friend), and I’m glad for that, in fact, for me things would probably have been left at that if YOU hadn’t stated that you had changed your policy on my blog.

    You see, what I’m really concerned with, and this is the issue which really needs to be addressed is the matter of your UNCHANGED, despite announcements to the contrary, policy on deep linking.

    As for trying to understand your situation, I do. From a business point of view I can understand exactly why you would want to charge people to link into specific URLs on your service.

    However it’s misguided, and a clear misunderstanding of how the internet works to attempt to charge companies money for deep linking without notifying them of your terms of service.

    The problem with the existing policy on Krak.dk is a simple matter of Web Design. That’s it! Nothing more!

    As hard as it may be to believe, I have no problem with charging for access to content that is located behind the front URL of a web site. Or to put it another way, I have no problem with charging for deep linking, if (and this “if” is important) it is done properly.

    There is nothing stopping Kraks from implementing a system where by incoming links from business web sites are blocked, redirected or allowed through depending on their IP address or originating domain.

    Paying business sites would then have full access to your service and other sites would be cut off.

    But, from a business point of view, cutting off non-paying sites from deep linking to your site reduces your revenue generated from the advertising placed on the sites? (As a matter of interest, do you show advertising on URLs accessed by paying customers?)

    It’s easy to see why you wouldn’t want to implement the (relatively easy and less costly than lawyers and court battles) software solution when it will reduce your revenue from advertising.

    So that leaves you one other, simple, cheaper to implement and impossible to argue with solution.

    If a single link to your terms of Service were include on the front page and map pages, then there would be no possibility of anybody complaining about this policy in the future. More to the point, if this link were included, I would shut up talking and posting about Krak.dk.

    I know, as do I’m sure you do Poul, that it’s not hard to implement such a link on the site. So why isn’t it there?

    Is it such a crime to notify users that they may potential be subject to fees up front?

    So, simple question. Why have you not yet updated your policy on your web site to reflect your publicly stated policy?

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Andy Beard (read his post first) picked up on my last post about the fact that the Krak.dk thing is still ongoing and wrote a post about why the A-list bloggers need to get involved and spread the word about this as the clear misunderstanding of web technology displayed stands to damage the way the internet works for everyone, both private and commercial. [...]