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20 August, 2004

Crass spectacle

I have no desire to link to the official website of the Olympic Games, but if I did, I couldn't.  Or rather, if I wanted to link to it, it's claimed I'd have to:

Send a request letter to the Internet Department stating:
  • Short description of site
  • Reason for linking
  • Unique URL containing the link (if no unique URL than just the main URL)
  • Publishing period
  • Contact point (e-mail address)
I'd also allegedly be restricted to:
Use the term ATHENS 2004 only, and no other term as the text referent
So MonkeyFilter's chosen googlebomb of 'crass spectacle' is totally out of the question.

The key error behind all this is stated on the 'Hyperlink Policy' page of the Olympics site (also the source of the above quotes):

By introducing a link to the ATHENS 2004 official Website on your site you are agreeing to comply with the ATHENS 2004 Website General Terms and Conditions.
That is totally untrue, and has no legal merit. The internet just doesn't work that way. I can link to any website in the world; no permission is required from the owners, who have no rights to impose conditions on me. For the record, I do not agree to comply with the ATHENS 2004 Website General Terms and Conditions. If the owners wish to block traffic received via my link, that's their business, but they can't stop me placing the link in the first place. Tim Berners-Lee was talking about this as long ago as 1997.

I'm talking about text links to a website, using whatever wording I choose (unless it's libelous, which is a different issue). If I linked using a trademarked logo, that might be different, but I'm pretty sure the legal issue would be the use of a copyrighted emblem without permission, not specifically the use of it as a link.

For a moment I thought this bogus restriction was just a publicity stunt, but this is the Olympics, which already has saturation coverage, so I think it's a genuine, misguided, and unacceptable attempt to control the activities of parties over whom the owners don't have any influence.

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