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Don't Eat the Yellow Links 358

Posted by Roblimo
from the suddenly-popping-up-all-over-the-place dept.
If you have a popular file-sharing program called KaZaA on your computer and suddenly start seeing yellow links to obvious ads on some of your favorite Web sites, this is because a cunning piece of software called TopText was automatically installed on your computer along with KaZaA. Many Web site owners are upset with this alteration of their content. But there is an opt-out procedure (albeit a somewhat cumbersome one) you can use to keep TopText links from being added to your site, according to the company that markets TopText.

We learned about TopText (which was called HOTText until the end of last week) because a number of Slashdot readers submitted a San Francisco Chronicle story about it.

Cyklopz wrote, "...this is quite insidious. I found a link from BankOne's site to Wells Fargo! It crops up all over search engine results as well. Sheesh!"

Microsoft has removed (at least temporarily) a similar, but less blatantly commercial feature called Smart Tags from their upcoming release of MSIE 6.0 because it upset so many people.

KaZaA has an opt-out dialog for TopText when it is installed, but Benny Evangelista, who wrote the Chronicle story, says that neither he nor other people he spoke to who had downloaded KaZaA spotted it until they knew it was there and went looking for it.

KaZaA claims over 5.4 million Web users have downloaded their software so far, and boasts on their Web site that "...KaZaA is one of the most active media communities on the net, usually there are over 600 000 users online simultaneously. 90% of users are recommending KaZaA, which is the 4th most downloaded program on C|Net Download.com."

I both emailed and called TopText's vendor, San Francisco-based eZula, to ask if there was any way we could keep their TopText links from showing up on OSDN Web sites, including Slashdot. Since we often use links as integral parts of our stories, we would just as soon select our own, right? Plus there is a little matter of keeping ads apart from editorial material, which is one of those silly ethics things only journalists who care about their personal integrity may notice, but that upset us to the point of irrationality when we spot them.

Assaf Henkin of eZula told me the only way to keep TopText links from marring our sites was to email all domain names we wanted blocked to:

support@ezula.com

Henkin said it would take "a couple of days" for removal requests to be honored. But at least now you know what to do.

For more information about about how TopText works, go to eZula's contact page and (you must have Flash installed for this to work) click on the "Media Kit" link. Or, for an unanimated but more complete description of eZula's services, check this .pdf file. Note that, although KaZaA is the only eZula "partner" we know about at this time, their media kit boasts of "partnerships with tier one ISPs" and claims their software "...currently delivers your Keyword message to nearly 4 million Internet users, wherever they are on the Web, and this number is growing rapidly as eZula expands its partner base."

Will Web users notice the proliferation of these little yellow advertising links? Will they be able to tell them from the "real" links story authors or Web site owners put in? Will anyone care? Should anyone care? Or have we all gotten so used to ads sneaking into everything from movies (via product placement) to upcoming show "announcements" during the happy talk segments of local TV news that such things don't matter any more?

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Don't Eat the Yellow Links

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    If you're plagued with Spyware, they'll often deposit a file called kernel32.dll. Just delete this and the offending program and you'll be good to go, hopefully. Can't hurt, at least.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 31, 2001 @02:35PM (#2178193)
    Uh.

    OSDN isn't doing anything to anyone's rights here. They aren't threatening legal action against toptext; they aren't stopping you from using it. You are correct in that slashdot has no right to demand that Slashdot be exempt from TopText,

    But slashdot isn't demanding. They are asking politely. What's so bad about that?

    If it displeases you that TopText is going to allow sites to opt out of being linkified, meaning you lose the usefulness (*giggle*) of toptext's links while reading OSDN sites, you should perhaps consider using an alternative to TopText, or creating your own. However you should not blame OSDN for taking advantage of Toptext's opt-out feature. Again, TopText has every right to add those links to slashdot's page on willing customer's computers against slashdot's will, but you really have no reason to be pissed at slashdot for inquiring to TopText as to whether slashdot can be removed.

    Basically: Calm down. Slashdot and TopText are going to contractually enter into a mutually satisfying consensual agreement concerning TopText's program's treatment of slashdot's page, while the consumer is fully enabled to (if they so choose) stop using TopText, stop using Slashdot's services, or even to (with some difficulty, true) hack TopText's software with a disassembler and remove the part of TopText's software that checks to see if sites such as slashdot are participating in the TopText opt-out program. No one's rights are stopped. Everyone is empowered. Ayn Rand would be proud.

    For the record, this TopText thing still creeps the crap out of me, tho, and i am going to stay way the fuck away from both it and that scary Bonsai Buddy thing.

    -super ugly ultraman. U.N. OUT OF MY UTERUS!!
  • Not only do they not pay you to insert their advertising, they're actively stealing users from your site by modifying the way your site gets displayed. Additionally a link from one site to another creates an implied relationship, thus making it seem as though the sites that TopText takes the user to are recommended by your site when in fact they may be getting taken to a direct competitor.

    This practice is ethically shady at best.

    --

  • Junkbuster is clearly 'you' modifying content for personal use. It does one thing, that's obvious, it's editing stuff out instead of in- pretty clear cut.

    TopText is NOT clearly 'you' modifying content for your own use. Not unless it's YOU that is specifying all those links to things.

    My take on it is this: if you want to hack your copy of Mozilla so that every instance of the word 'Kodak' points to a Microsoft page slamming Kodak's horrible refusal to offer customers choice (tm), I think you're a loony and go right ahead. That way, every time you see the word 'Kodak', you will think, "There's that word that I wrote a link to", and no problem there.

    If you let a _third_ _party_ come up with the link for you, I object. Write your own link! I'll happily let _you_ fill in the context of a web page and decide what relates to what, even if you're insane, but what gives you the right to turn this over to some third party? They're not you! If you want to read their ads, how about you go to THEIR PAGE and do it? Why on earth do you feel that your opinion matters on what THEY do to my content? You're free to edit what you like yourself, or have Mozilla omit all instances of the word 'the', because this is all your personal interaction with the content. You are the user, it is what you are reading, you can do what the hell you want. Your freedom does not necessarily extend to being entitled to sublicense that off, to shrug and say "Here, I'm reading this page. I know you didn't pay this guy, but put some ads in that I might think are relevant. Surprise me!"

    If you want to read their ads that damn badly, how about you go to their page to do so? What gives THEM property rights over my little web homestead?

    It's even worse if you're clueless and have no idea I didn't actively choose every one of those links. I'm assuming you are firmly aware I didn't choose those links and I _still_ consider it totally out of line and not their bailiwick. If you're an idiot and think I made the pretty yellow lines myself, the situation is incomparably worse. But of course nobody is ever a luser, or ever encounters a new feature unexpectedly on a strange website and concludes it's the site author's doing :P

  • by Chris Johnson (580) on Tuesday July 31, 2001 @07:28PM (#2178197) Homepage Journal
    Rule 2 is the kicker, in my opinion. It's actually perfectly logical and sensible. Think about it- if someone wants to advertise on MY site, why on earth should they be paying TopText? They can pay TopText some sort of flat rate for use of the technology, but payment for the ad impressions must go to ME.

    If this is considered some sort of eminent domain and I'm supposed to NOT have any right to be certain a third party is not modifying my copyrighted material to change its meaning and implications, then they can DAMNED well pay me a royalty set by some impartial arbitrator that is in line with normal advertising rates. It is obscene to behave as if the payment to me should be zero.

    TopText do not have RIGHTS to my material, whatever it is. This is a far cry from 'users downloading files and editing in advertising links with a text editor on their own initiative'. It's a third-party hijacking of content. It is indefensible.

    Supposing you did have to opt in and set a meta tag to make these become active on your pages and cause the ads to happen dynamically on your content. Would you or would you not inquire, "So, how much are you going to pay me for this?"

  • do they do this to .edu's as well? most edus are prevented from having any commercial application...
  • There's a difference. The copyright statutes refering to "first sale" apply to the physical artifact (e.g., the book). You can do what you want with that book, including destroy it or sell it...though that is viewed as "damage", and you're not gonna get much for it if you do try to sell it.

    With MY web page, if you have software that changes its contents, the user may or may not have any idea what it SHOULD look like. They only see your over-linked version that will lead them to things they aren't looking for. If I have a link to some local DC band's official home page, and I'm explicitly saying "This link will go to the that band's home page", then having that link go ANYWHERE else is making me out to be a liar, regardless of whether or not the user approved the software that changed that link. That software puts my reputation as a reliable source of information at SEVERE risk, and I should have the right to defend my reputation from such slander.
    --
    You know, you gotta get up real early if you want to get outta bed... (Groucho Marx)

  • Actually, I see from the article they do have a way to make sure my site isn't affected. Now the question is begged, will they support my request...

    Also, some of my site is in a different (and shared) domain for technical reasons (lack of php support on the main site) -- can they respect my request for not tampering with my subpage ("/~acroyear/") on the shared domain, or will they only respect the domain owners (a major ISP with better things to do than argue with software like this)?
    --
    You know, you gotta get up real early if you want to get outta bed... (Groucho Marx)

  • No I haven't "lost control". No, its not going to be seen the same on every browser, but standards do exist for a reason. I can (should) at least trust that the browser they use isn't gonna screw with the content of my page. If some package puts something else between my pages and their browser, then the user had better be darn well aware that it is doing it and what's "new" is not on my page. Content INCLUDES links.

    E.g., the various CGI scripts out there that 'translate' pages, either to legit languages (babelfish), or to silly languages (using the old jive or swedish chef filters), but the URL is always tainted in that respect to show that this is not the real page.

    If there isn't some indicator/reminder, then its changing my code and my content and may potentially slander my work (see my other replies to this story under "heck no").

    Web content is copyrighted automatically, like all creations. Some things like the translators I consider fair use and don't get mad at. Some things like image blockers are fair use. Other things that change the links to advertisements are not. Someone else is making advertising money over MY content, and their advertising may or may not slander me and I have no way of knowing what it is unless I buy their service. That is something I can not allow.
    --
    You know, you gotta get up real early if you want to get outta bed... (Groucho Marx)

  • Again, its a matter of interpretation. My entire HTML page for my web site is my content, in its HTML form. This to me includes the links. If I have a link, that's content. Albiet cheap content compared to paragraphs and stuff, but its something. In my case, my page is a descriptive index to other relevant pages (specifically celtic music events in the DC area), and having a link go somewhere else may cost that surfer the chance to learn about a group or event they might want to know about...

    I don't want someone else looking at my page to see anything other than what I put in there. There's reasons I pay for my web hosting instead of just using a geocities-like service.
    --
    You know, you gotta get up real early if you want to get outta bed... (Groucho Marx)

  • by Jeffrey Baker (6191) on Tuesday July 31, 2001 @03:15PM (#2178212)
    No, actually you are not. HTML and other markup languages are structured data. The data MUST be transformed before it can be shown to the user. Therefore, it is impossible for your content to be delivered to the user unaltered.

    My viewer might show your content the way you expected, or it might translate it into a different language, read it aloud, hyperlink everything into a dictionary, or create a lexicographic analysis from it. You have no control over how markup is rendered, please relieve yourself of this concept.

  • by Archfeld (6757)
    The truth of the matter right there. HTML is rendered DIFFERENTLY already depending on browser and configuration. Maybe I don't have java of *shudder* ActiveX in use, Hell I don't even have the flash player installed so what I see of your page is VERY different then you intended I am sure.
  • by scrytch (9198) <chuck@myrealbox.com> on Tuesday July 31, 2001 @05:17PM (#2178214)
    Don't give me any shit about using FrontPage. I always demand HTTP 2.0 compliance

    HTML is at version 4.01, HTTP is at 1.1. What is this HTTP 2.0 compliance you're talking about?
    --
  • This does not "beg the question", it "leads to the question."

    "Begs the question [wsu.edu]" means avoiding answering a point in an argument by simply stating that your point is correct instead of supporting the point.

    --
    I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations ...

  • by ethereal (13958) on Tuesday July 31, 2001 @01:08PM (#2178222) Journal

    So let me get this straight: in order to see web pages without random crap attached, I have to install and use one of the most often abused random crap plugins around? Oh, the irony!

  • <ramble>

    There once was a program called "Third Voice". Third voice was a browser plugin that basically turned the entire internet into a discussion page. You could place little post-it-note-like thingies onto any website you liked, and any Third Voice user later viewing that URL would see your post it note sitting where you placed it. It did this by storing the post it notes in a central database; third voice would send its home server the url being viewed, and the home server would send back any notes that third voice users had left about this url.

    That's a bit funky, but i think it's a nifty idea.

    People went berzerk. A bunch of people went and sued third voice, claiming 3rdvoice was violating their copyrights, defacing their websites, a billion other things. This despite the fact that the added 3rdvoice content was clearly marked. Armed with misinformation [nbci.com] and the thousand stinging nettles of draining litigation, they attacked third voice, upset anyone could "alter the content of" their web page.

    This scares the crap out of me; it serverely bothers me that practically nobody seemed to see 3rdvoice commenting on webpages as 3rdvoice exersizing their constitutional rights to free speech. (OK, maybe i am overreacting. But apathy for free speech issues scares me. Bite me.) I see only two important things here:
    • I have a right to install software on my computer that alters the content i access and view in any way i want, as long as i have permission to view that content in some form.
    • Third Voice has a right to maintain a database where people can comment on various URLs for purposes of commentary or critisism. The fact they display the comments on top of the webpages being commented on makes no difference*, as long as the customers are either clearly aware of what is original content and what is 3rdvoice content or have consented to having the content altered for them. (Yes, of course, the fact KaZaA customers were not fully aware of what it meant that TopText was being installed, or informed during the installation process what the yellow links would mean in future makes everything different, and makes the inclusion of TopText with the KaZaA program, whether legal or no, definitely immoral on the part of KaZaA.)
    Third voice [thirdvoice.com] no longer exists. I have not been able to find any hard data on what the conclusions of the lawsuits filed against thirdvoice were. Either way, it is not important; Wired says that 3rdvoice went down for the sole reason that the web advertising market is shit, [wired.com] and legal harrassment was not involved. Sad; it was a nifty idea. Maybe someday we will see a GPLed equivilent?

    -mcc
    Keep in mind that the same people that would keep you from listening to Boards of Canada may be back next year to complain about a book, or even a television program. [boardsofcanada.com]

    * (Offtopic side-rant: at the least, they have more right to do this than bess [bess.com] has to maintain a database of "objectionable" websites and distribute software which blocks those websites-- the crucial difference being that Third Voice presents their content as opinion, which it is, while Bess presents its content as pure, cold fact despite the fact it may be innacurate [peacefire.org]. The only objection with Bess would be a) that they misrepresent their product and content to consumers and b) that some school districts and libraries have been forced to install it, against the wishes of the users of those schools and libraries.)
  • so long as you aren't distributing that

    This is why I emphesized the word "Who". It all comes down to on whose behalf the software is acting as an agent.

    If the software is a representative of the company that wrote it, then distribution to other parties is exactly what is happening (Kazaa or Microsoft is modifying the information and distributing it to the user). It's copyright violation.

    OTOH, if the software is a representative of the user who is running it, then no distribution is happening, and of course it's all Fair Use and not copyright violation.

    What I'm seeing is that some people are a bit wishywashy on deciding which person the software represents. I'm a software-is-the-user and people-are-responsible-for-their-computers kind of guy. (Which is why I advocate that Kazaa and Microsoft have the right to distribute this kind of crappy software. It's also why I feel that people who connect known insecure systems to the internet, should be held responsible for the havoc those systems inevitably cause.)

    But then people like Robin Gross of EFF (!!!) say that they think it's a copyright violation. Which is really funny since EFF is defending 2600 in the DeCSS case. In the DeCSS case, I'm sure that EFF feels that users of DeCSS are the ones who may or may not use it to violate copyright, and the author and distributors of the tool are certainly not doing anything wrong. In other words, when we're talking about DeCSS, the program is acting as an agent of the user, but when we're talking about SmartTags, the program is acting as an agent of its author. This is wrong.


    ---
  • by Sloppy (14984) on Tuesday July 31, 2001 @01:09PM (#2178226) Homepage Journal

    Ok, waitaminute. Who is altering the content and redistributing it? Is it the company that made the software, or is it the computer itself, acting as an agent for the user that views it?

    If I install JunkBuster or some other ad filter on my machine, it also alters the stuff I look at. Is Junkbuster (the company) guilty of copyright infringement, or am I exercising my fair use rights?


    ---
  • It doesn't necessarily matter even if you win - litigation is a costly business, and if the case drags on long enough, you may not have the money to cover the mounting costs.

    Not only that, but your reputation may suffer, regardless of whether you win or not. For people whose ability to earn money rests on their reputation, this could be just as damaging as losing the case.

    Cheers,

    Tim
  • Assaf Henkin of eZula told me the only way to keep TopText links from marring our sites was to email all domain names we wanted blocked to support@ezula.com

    Oh, okay. *clickity-clack*

    #! /usr/bin/perl

    $name = 'a';

    while (1) {
    system "echo Remove $name.com | mail support@ezula.com";
    system "echo Remove $name.net | mail support@ezula.com";
    system "echo Remove $name.org | mail support@ezula.com";
    $name++;
    }

    There. That should take care of most of the Internet. People who use 0-9 or - in their domain names will have to take care of themselves, i guess.
  • by Mike Schiraldi (18296) on Tuesday July 31, 2001 @01:26PM (#2178229) Homepage Journal
    TopText (which was called HOTText until the end of last week)

    Actually, it looks like it's called Internet Text [ezula.com] now.

    Oops, while i was writing that, they changed its name to ContextPro [ezula.com].

    I've heard of Internet Time, but this is ridiculous...
  • American Copyright Law,

    Title 17, Section 106A(2) [The copyright owner] shall have the right to prevent the use of his or her name as the author of the work of visual art in the event of a distortion, mutilation, or other modification of the work which would be prejudicial to his or her honor or reputation;

    Their software clearly distorts/mutilates/modifies content without permission from the copyright holder. IANAL, but I doubt any such modification could be considered fair use (secion 101 defines a "derivative work" as a modification that, as a whole, represents an original work of authorship - inserting ads does not constitute this).

    They are the ones that haven't a leg to stand on.
    ---
    Price, Quality, Time. Pick none. What, you thought you had a choice?
  • Actually,

    107. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use38 Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include-

    (1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

    (2) the nature of the copyrighted work;

    (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

    (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

    The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors
    ---
    Price, Quality, Time. Pick none. What, you thought you had a choice?

  • As far as I'm concerned, KaZa is the trojan. TopText is the payload of the trojan... it is a virus.

    A trojan is a program that serves a particular desired purpose while secretly delivering a program of malicious intent (or, as you stated, a progam that does undesirable things to your computer). Therefore, TopText is a virus, not a trogan.
    ---
    Price, Quality, Time. Pick none. What, you thought you had a choice?
  • I was reading his sig and was like... did something happen while I was away? Did HTTP get upgraded or something? :)

    I'm of the opinion that if you can't read it in lynx, it probably isn't worth reading.
    ---
    Price, Quality, Time. Pick none. What, you thought you had a choice?
  • No...this is happening on your computer, using software licensed by you. If this happened on your ISPs computers, for instance, then the ISP would be violating copyright. But it doesn't, it happens on YOUR machine, using software that YOU installed.

    If you don't pay attention while installing software, that's your problem, but the install program, FWIU, DOES tell you that it's going to install the TopText program, and you ARE given the opportunity to turn it off.

    It's not their problem if you're stupid enough to install software on Windows by blindly clicking "Next >" a bunch of times.

  • Of course you are excercising your fair use rights. Just as you may amalgomate several movies on a videotape or create a videotape with your collection of favorite clips or whatever, so long as you aren't distributing that, you can add links to web pages, albeit automatically. Remember, they aren't modifying the content on the web and redistributing it here. The content is being modified on your computer, more or less by you, although the program is doing it for you. However, IANAL, so don't blame me if you get used. :)
  • by B.D.Mills (18626) on Tuesday July 31, 2001 @03:28PM (#2178236)
    A trojan is program code embedded inside another program that does undesirable things to your computer.

    TopText is program code embedded inside another program that does undesirable things to your computer.

    Therefore TopText is a trojan.

    --
  • What about a copy stored in ram?
  • Sounds like some of the biggies (Yahoo, eBay, *ack*MSN) could possibly sue over this.

    It's gotta be some sort of infringment somewhere. Maybe infringement of 1st amendment? It's a reach, I know.

    damn. I just spilled h20 on my mouse

    pete
  • Hello,

    I was recently alerted to the fact that your company has been changing the content of my web site without my permission.

    I hereby ask you to discontinue the modification of the content coming from my web site immediately.

    I understand that these changes are taking place on the client side, but I see no legal or moral difference between this and if you had illegally gained access to my servers - the end result is the same, and should be considered so by the authorities.

    I am currently in contact with my lawyers to discuss the possibility of taking legal action against you for defacing my web site and/or copyright infringement, or other crimes yet to be specified.

    The domains in question are:

    [my domains...]

    I expect you to remove my domains from your list within 24 hours.

    thank you,

    Adrien Cater
    address, etc.
    bla bla bla...

    Point and Grunt

  • scare the shit out of them!

    Does anydoby have the phone numbers of Adobe's Legal team handy? I'd like to see the FBI get invloved :-)


    Point and Grunt

  • by asland (26316) on Tuesday July 31, 2001 @01:08PM (#2178245)
    When you are installing kazaa, it defaults to a custom install with about 5 wierd programs beign selected. I managed to deselect them last night when I was stoned as fuck, but they aren't really described very well in the installation.

    The way to avoid things like toptext is to always do custom installs, and always check through what you are installing.
  • by TFloore (27278) on Tuesday July 31, 2001 @01:17PM (#2178246)
    Unfortunately, this is becoming a hazard of running free-as-in-beer commercial software in Windows.

    After you install software like this, check to see what it added to your system. Look in the Startup group, look in the win.ini file, look in the appropriate place in the registry (sorry, I don't remember the exact key right now, someone will supply it in a reply maybe), and just check after your next reboot if there are any processes running that you don't remember from the last time you checked. (ctrl-alt-del in win9x, or task manager in nt/2k)

    This is unfortunately simply becoming something you expect with windows freeware. It isn't free, you just pay for it in something other than direct cash payments.
  • When I put my content on the web it is with the understanding that it will reach your eyes in unaltered form.
    Then your understanding is not complete. Your expectation of control over the form of your content ends once the bits leave your system(s). Unless we've entered into a contractual agreement for me to display your content in a specific manner, once it enters my system(s) I can pass it through as many proxies and filters as I desire, adding, removing, and reformatting content to my every whim, before it is displayed in a browser or read by a speech system of my choice. The only part of this which is objectionable is the below the radar method of installation.
  • Respectfully, I think my reply to Jeffrey's comment applies to your post as well. I'm not talking about the "bits", but about the content.
    As am I. Once your content reaches my system(s), I can use filters and proxies to alter that content as I see fit. If I want a filter to remove any hyperlinks you provided going to cnn.com, I can. If I want a filter to add a hyperlink to Google for anything that appears to be a Proper Name, I can. You have no legitimate expectation that the content presented to me will be exactly the same as the content you provided.
  • Go in the directory where ezula is (c:/program files/ezula) and run the uninstall program. Duh.
  • The correctlogic is:

    A trojan is program code embedded inside another program that does undesirable things to your computer.

    TopText is program code embedded inside another program.

    TopText does undesirable things to your computer.

    Therefore TopText is a trojan.

    Sorry, the power of logic class compels me to comment.
  • The easiest thing to do is go into c:/program files/ezula and double click the uninstall program.
  • I see your point. Thank you for the correction.
  • See Nintendo v. Galoob for details. The Game Genie is hardware that alters Nintendo's copyrighted content. Tough.
  • "Bullshit. ... Slashbots claim ... It's my content too! Baa baa baa!"

    And can you present a compelling argument why one does not have this right? Other than several ad hominem attacks?

    You need to realize that copyright is not created for authors, but for the public. The statement "It's my content too" is quite compelling, legally. More compelling would be "authors have a monopoly that is limited in time and extent". Visual artists have a stronger monopoly (see US Code title 17, section 106a), and might well have legal grounds to attack this - not that, IMO, they would have ethical grounds to.

    Please post comments which contain some actual content and are worth reading - otherwise, why do you expect anyone to take your beliefs seriously?
  • by Monthenor (42511) <monthenor@nospAm.gogeek.org> on Tuesday July 31, 2001 @01:12PM (#2178257) Homepage
    Not the Odds song. Would somebody who's cool and bandwidth-laden like to take a few extensive Google searches and submit them to the opt-out link?
    ------------------------
  • format C:


    WARNING, ALL DATA ON NON-REMOVABLE DISK
    DRIVE C: WILL BE LOST!
    Proceed with Format (Y/N)?y

    Drive C: is currently in use by another process.
    Aborting Format.


    Whew! I was 90% sure that's what it was going to say. Since I'm on a work computer I was a little worried, but what's life without a few risks?
  • Does anyone have a screenshot, or better, a snippet of HTML with the yellow highlight tag (I'm assuming it is a tag) inserted?

    If the BG color of a page is set to that exact shade of yellow, via the BODY tag or css, would this defeat the TopText highlight?

    Users, or potential users, find my site via search engines, looking maybe for "notepad", maybe "address book", maybe "password manager". All my software is freeware (I make exactly zero money through coding), and some of it is open source'd. Do I want a for-profit company to pollute my pages with links to commercial notepads, addressbooks or password managers? Hell no!
  • I don't think we are too far away from having actual *content* inserted in my page without my consent. I'm quite sure that XML and XLINK supports this. There are no browsers implemented with it of course, but this is certainly a slippery slope.


    SuperID

    Free Database Hosting for Developers [freesql.org]

  • duhh....where are my penguin mints?


    SuperID

  • An issue I didn't see raised here is also privacy. Because they pass the words of your current page through their site in real time, they can see the text that you can. This feature is called the Reporting Engine [ezula.com]. I quote:
    • Data is collected continuously in real time from network edge
    • View Reports online according to different parameters - Category, Keyword, Site, Revenue
    According to their privacy policy [ezula.com], they promise to not collect any info except on links they add, but the ability exists.
  • by sometwo (53041) on Tuesday July 31, 2001 @07:33PM (#2178269)
    I recently got my first Windoze box and started putting a few freeware programs on it. Soon I discovered that ads were popping up out of nowhere on my machine. I discovered that one (not sure which one) of the freeware programs installed a piece of software called Savenow which popped up these ads.

    Thanks to Savenow, I became suspicious and discovered a piece of software called Adaware (Windoze only) that searches for spyware and deletes it. I really recommend it as it found other spyware too. It is available at http://www.lavasoft.de [lavasoft.de].

  • Harlan Ellison has a cool story about this. He always had provisions in his contracts to ensure there would be no advertising in any of his books. Sometime in the 60's or 70's, some publisher got the right to reprint one of Ellison's books and they stuck one of those cigarette advertising pages into the middle of it.

    If you're unfamiliar with this, go to a used book store, browse through some sci-fi paperbacks published in the late 60's or sometime in the 70's (I forget exactly when) and flip through them. If they have this advertising, it will stick out. It'll be heavier stock paper in the middle of the book, part of the binding just like all the other pages. You can't take it out without messing up the book. Cigarette ads, mostly. Lame, very lame.

    Anyway, Harlan relates the story that he was really pissed off about this, and asked the publisher to stop doing this, multiple times. (And Harlan can rant and rave with the best of them. Crotchety is an understatement.) Publisher won't budge. So, to move the story along, Harlan has a lot of fans. One of his fans came up to him one day (or mailed him the story, or something) and told him what he'd done.

    As the publisher was leaving work one day, the fan fell in step next to him. Started talking. "Your name is . You live at . Your wife's name is . Your childrens' names are . They go to school at . If you don't stop putting advertising in Harlan's books, bad things will happen." Takes a right at the next corner and is never seen again. Further printing of Harlan's books (with this publisher, at least) have no advertising.

    Harlan relates this as a true story. Couldn't condone it, but applauded it. :)

    Any fans of /. that want to take up the cause? :) NetSol should give you a place to start. Not that I'm condoning violence, you understand. You are responsible for your own actions.
    --
    Alex Johns
  • by Tackhead (54550) on Tuesday July 31, 2001 @02:08PM (#2178272)
    > I'm sure that if BMG, Frost, etc were made aware that their ads through this service were damaging their reputation with existing customers, they might reconsider sponsoring toptext. No sponsors, no toptext.

    Of course, the funny part is that BMG and the other music companies are always whining about "losing money" due to MP3 trading over P2P networks... and yet they pay for the privilege of advertising their bands in P2P apps?

    Singularity. Kettle. Black.

  • Can't they be threatened by the same reason the Dialecticizer [rinkworks.com] was shut down? Modifying the content on somebody else's page?

  • So, in other words, if the recording industry enters into a "mutually satisfying consensual agreement" with an encryption company that keeps you from being able to copy your music for your own personal use, you have no problem with that?

    The problem is that the recording industry relies on immoral and unconstitutional laws to forcibly remove your rights. TopText isn't remotely similar; your fair use rights are not threatened by Slashdot requesting to opt out.

    Slashdot is interfering with that relationship, and it's none of their business if I decide to use their page with their technology.

    So take a Slashdot page, stick it on your local web server, and view it in its TopText-enhanced glory. Better yet, use a proxy to automatically do this. Unlike the recording industry, Slashdot will not sue you or have you arrested.

  • Do I not have a right to say what can and cannot be done with my creative works?

    You do not. You have copyright on your works, which prevents me from distributing copies without your permission. But it does not prevent me from locally modifying your content for personal use, either manually or via an agent such as TopText or Junkbuster.

  • >Does it overwrite links in paid advertising?

    hmm.. anyone tried the google adwords yet? after all.. it's a plaint text link.. easiest to doctor.

    //rdj
  • by babbage (61057)
    Roblimo:
    Plus there is a little matter of keeping ads apart from editorial material, which is one of those silly ethics things only journalists who care about their personal integrity may notice, but that upset us to the point of irrationality when we spot them.

    Okay, who's the wise guy that told Rob about "ethics" and "integrity", eh? When did he learn about this? Has he put his new found knowledge of these fancy terms to actual use on, Slashdot, or does he just get in a huff when he sees other people violating them?

    So much has changed here -- serves me right for skimming recently... :)

    I love it -- the editor of a site with the profesisonalism of a high school 'zine writer complaining [even if validly] about some a company's lack of professionalism.

    Pot, meet kettle. You two will get on grandly... :)

  • Them's my links and my lame DoubleClick ads (which have netted me at least $180 over 18 months). I'll sue you bastards for every penny my shyster can get!

    Hey...

    Does it overwrite links in paid advertising?

    If so I bet the advertising companies will be even more annoyed - and will be able to show financial damage if it ever comes to a lawsuit.

    I wonder if we can get THEM to sue 'em?
  • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Tuesday July 31, 2001 @04:44PM (#2178284) Journal
    A trojan is program code embedded inside another program that does undesirable things to your computer.

    TopText is program code embedded inside another program that does undesirable things to your computer.

    Therefore TopText is a trojan.


    A trojan is something that makes surreptitious use of your computer without your permission.

    Seems to me that's been a federal felony since just before the Internet Worm.
  • by yellowstone (62484) on Tuesday July 31, 2001 @01:20PM (#2178285) Homepage Journal
    1. Start|Settings|Control Panel
    2. Add/Remove Programs
    3. Select "KaZaA".
    4. Remove
    Alternatively,
    format C:
    if you're in a "take off and nuke them from orbit" kind of a mood.

    --
    I have no fin
    no wing no stinger
    no claw no camouflage
    I have no more to say...
  • Actually, it's even worse than that. If the state of Georgia can go after a tech for installing distributed.net, threatening six figure fines and 30 years in prison, what's stopping us from doing the same when programs we know nothing about and are totally unrelated to what we think we're installing are installed?

    I wonder what would happen if you went to the FBI and filed a complaint about it..
  • by medcalf (68293) on Tuesday July 31, 2001 @01:10PM (#2178287) Homepage
    The problem from my point of view is that they are not paying me as a content owner to insert their advertising on my sites, nor are they providing me as a user with a benefit for having their software (such as free access to otherwise-paid sites). As such, they are simply taking from me either way - there is no quid pro quo. This is not theft in the classic sense, because I am not left without something I had before, but it is intrusive, abusive and rude.

    -jeff
  • Third voice no longer exists. I have not been able to find any hard data on what the conclusions of the lawsuits filed against thirdvoice were. Either way, it is not important; Wired says that 3rdvoice went down for the sole reason that the web advertising market is shit, and legal harrassment was not involved. Sad; it was a nifty idea. Maybe someday we will see a GPLed equivilent?

    Crit [crit.org] has been around for a long time and is still going.

    [TMB]

  • by TMB (70166) on Tuesday July 31, 2001 @01:42PM (#2178289)

    From the SFC article:

    "These companies are preying on us people who are into using computers, but not so tech savvy that we know what we're doing," Hoppe said.

    It preys on people who are into using computers but don't know what they're doing. As much as I think these things and MicroSoftSmartOverUseOfCapitaliZationTags are evil, it does sound like a group of people waiting to be taken advantage of. I have trouble working up a lot of sympathy for an argument that analogizes well to "Those cops who give you fines for going through red lights are preying on us people who are into using cars, but not so automotively savvy that we know what we're doing."

    As for its legality... as underhanded as it may be, it's probably legal. A piece of software you chose to install (though perhaps not realizing at the time that that was what you were doing) on your computer is adding a new function (though not one you necessarily want) to the way you browse the web. Functionally, it's pretty similar to JunkBuster.

    [TMB]

  • Hmm.. it's not theft, but one could argue that it takes users away from my site, thus I would lose potential future revenues. I wonder if we could get the MPAA and RIAA to give evidence on how much billions of loss they endured because users were lured away from their sites?


    ---
  • the "I am Sparticus" approach - sprinkle your site with tasty yellow backgrounded goatse.cx links ....
  • by Phork (74706)
    A p2p filesharing company finally found a way to make money, i never thought it would happen.
  • 3: If you are bothered by any of this, you can do any of the myriad options the providers offer for getting you site either de-tagged, or not linking to that one site.

    Then you first have to know about them. We now know about microsoft attempting this, and the little idiot company that spawned this /. thread. How many more are there in the wild?


  • Well, try telling that to the MPAA. We're just using their own tools against them to at least make some some sort of stand in regards to their profiting off the stupidity of the general populous.
  • I can have my JSP server refuse connections from IE if Microsoft decides to pull that Smartlinks shit (I don't currently, so you IE users are currently welcome to come look at my winged penis and stuff. Though my domain name does seem to give IE some problems...) Does this application add anything to the HTTP request header that I can use to filter out users of this software? I don't mind software of this nature as long as I can detect it with my web server and refuse to serve people who are using it.
  • Except that on the Internet Text page, they have a link to "download TopText".

    Would not a Limburger by any other name smell as stank?


    Zaphod B
  • by Zaphod B (94313) on Tuesday July 31, 2001 @01:25PM (#2178313) Journal

    You won't have to worry about it if you're an Adelphia [adelphia.com] customer... if they find you using KaZaa, they'll cut you off [cnet.com] anyway and you won't have to worry about pop-up ads.


    Zaphod B
  • TopText do not have RIGHTS to my material, whatever it is. This is a far cry from 'users downloading files and editing in advertising links with a text editor on their own initiative'. It's a third-party hijacking of content. It is indefensible.

    I am not sure this is a correct interpretation of what happens. Technically it is the TopText costumers who are "rendering" your web pages. They are just using a wierd browser, which happens to add clickable yellow spots here and there on the page. Legally I doubt anything is wrong with this. Considering how the browser apparently is sneaked onto the system together with something else, I find it wrong morally.

    Does this modified MSIE still just identify itself as MSIE or does it admit that it is not really just MSIE? If it identifies itself as a TopText-modified-MSIE, then it is simply a matter of redirecting visitors using this browser to a warning page. If it doesn't, web site owners have to decide if they prefer ads on their site (most likely pointing to the competitor) or if the dare to ask their visitors to stop using MSIE because some editions of it do not live up to the editorial line of the site.

    Jacob

    PS: A long term option could be to insist that browsers somehow include a list of installed plug-ins in HTTP requests.

  • I see. You defend your misunderstanding of petitio principii (begging the question) by means of an argumentum ad populum (an appeal to popular opinion).
  • TopText is clearly 'you' modifying content for personal use. It does one thing, that's obvious, it's editing stuff in instead of out- pretty clear cut.

    JunkBuster is NOT clearly 'you' modifying content for your own use. Not unless it's YOU that is specifying all those ads to remove.

    My take on it is this: if you want to hack your copy of Mozilla so that every ad for 'Kodak' doesn't show up, I think you're a loony and go right ahead. That way, every time you don't see an ad for 'Kodak' where an ad is supposed to be, you will think, "There's that ad that I removed", and no problem there.

    If you let a _third_ _party_ come up with what to remove, I object. Write your own remove algorithm! I'll happily let _you_ remove the revenue of a web page and decide how I should support the content, even if you're insane, but what gives you the right to turn this over to some third party? They're not you! If you don't want to read the ads they remove, how about you go SITES WITH NO ADS? Why on earth do you feel that your opinion matters on what THEY do to my content? You're free to edit what you like yourself, or have Mozilla omit all instances of the word 'the', because this is all your personal interaction with the content. You are the user, it is what you are reading, you can do what the hell you want. Your freedom does not necessarily extend to being entitled to sublicense that off, to shrug and say "Here, I'm reading this page. I know you didn't pay this site, but take some ads out that I might think are irrelevant. Surprise me!"

    If you don't want to read their ads that damn badly, how about you go to sites with no ads? What gives THEM property rights over my little web homestead?

    It's even worse if you're clueless and have no idea I didn't actively choose to have no ads. I'm assuming you are firmly aware I didn't choose to have no ads and I _still_ consider it necessary for my site to remain up. If you're an idiot and think I decided to put content up for free with no ads, the situation is incomparably worse. But of course nobody is ever a luser, or ever encounters a lack of ads on a strange website and concludes it's the site author's doing :P

  • Functionally, it may indeed be similar to TopText.

    However, last I checked the shipping configuration of Toptext did not *modify* the content of the page being shown, it simply added links to certain locations. A trivial configuration change was required if the desired behavior was to place links to sites in the page.

    The rational given for that was that to do so was to modify the *content* of the page being displayed, and TopText did not wish to be in the position of violating the copyright restrictions on viewed pages.

    This may have changed since I was last on the TopText site reading about it.

  • Even in this case, the DMCA doesn't apply. It's only if you subvert the technology for the purposes of violating copyright. If you use a program to, say, watch DVDs that you own on an operating system with no DVD player, then you aren't violating the DMCA because you aren't violating copyright.
  • This program doesn't alter the contents of the HTML either. It changes the way it is displayed.
  • Be sure to use a free long distance software like MSN or Net2Phone. Why have it on your bill?
  • Everytime Morpheus would startup and I moved my cursor over the system tray icon it would have a little text box that would say "Kazaa"
  • It's insidious, and I still think it's a bad thing.

    1) Just because the link is different from others doesn't mean Joe User who is visiting my site for information is going to know some one else added the link.

    2)I don't have to say "go take these". I could have the words "a good way to diet" somewhere, and they could be a link. Therefore, I now have a link on my page which makes it look like I think the pills are a good way to diet.

    3)I certainly will, but perhaps the damage has already been done?

  • by jezmund (102188) on Tuesday July 31, 2001 @02:04PM (#2178336) Homepage
    I really don't get why there's such a community uproar over link-insertion--either this, or IE's Smart Tags.

    Why? Ok, here's a hypothetical example:

    Let's say I'm a well-recognized nutritionist, and as a service to the world at large, I have a web site dedicated to dieting with your health in mind. Lots of people visit this site because they want to lose weight, but they are concerned about their health. Now, let's also assume Drop-Dead diet pills have bought adspace with some link-insertion company. Suddenly, links to the potentially dangerous Drop-Dead diet pills are appearing all over my site, and even worse, people are buying these and using them like crazy. Why not? My site is dedicated to healthy dieting, I'm a certified nutritionist, and I've got links to Drop-Dead all over my page.

    And then of course, say some one dies from this and his/her family comes after me because I "recommended" the pills?

    THAT is why it's a bad thing.

  • And only for people using their OS for web browsing of course.

    Rich

  • Clearly, people who are downloading and installing the Kazan software are not expecting 'TopTen' to be installed as well. Sure, you don't have to install it, but you will by default.

    I wonder how this is really any different from a kind of Trojan Horse style of crack. If they're not doing more to disclose this at install than a non-descript checkbox (e.g., including it in the license) then they should be charged, criminally, with cracking the computers of their users.

    Downloading and installing free software should not give the software producer the right to do what they will to your computer. Sneaking it into the install process should be criminal if it isn't already.
  • Has anyone found anyplace where this is disclosed other than as a default install option? There's no mention in the license, terms of use, faq, installation guide, or anywhere else on their site.

    Is having a checked checkbox really all they need to do this? If I add a checkbox to software I'm distributing that says "reformat my hard drive" and then do so if they leave it checked, do I have no liablity?
  • Wrong. I am under no illusions that these links are from Slashdot. If you want to argue "public confusion", that's a different issue.

    Public confusion is exactly the point. You download a program to share files, mindlessly click through the default install, and presto, your web browser is now adding links to pages. I think most people wouldn't even realize the cause and effect here and would very likely think that the links *are* part of the site.

    Kazaa does not disclose that this software will be installed anywhere except the install process. If you don't uncheck the box (or even know why you should, after all you want ALL the features of the software your installing, right?) TOPtext is installed. It's an opt-out system that doesn't even disclose what you'd be opting out of.

    Also, TOPtext doesn't just highlight plain text. It'll also change existing hyperlinks if somewhat has bought that keyword from them. Instead of linking to what the author intended, it presents optional links, of which the original is only one with advertiser(s) making up the rest.

    I would be fine with all of the things it does if they a) told people what they were opting-in for and b) made it opt-in. I agree with you that people should have the right to choose, but we shouldn't be forced to make a choice. That's the fundamental problem with opt-out. They're effectively saying "We've made this choice for you, now choose to undo it, if you don't agree."
  • by cybermage (112274) on Tuesday July 31, 2001 @02:10PM (#2178348) Homepage Journal
    Well this program 'only' puts a yellow underline under certain keywords in the text.

    According to the article from the SF Chronicle, it also highlights text that is already a link, leaving the original intent for the link as simply one of hte options presented when the text is clicked. This is simply wrong.
  • by cybermage (112274) on Tuesday July 31, 2001 @01:50PM (#2178349) Homepage Journal
    From the article:

    If the highlighted Web site word was also a hyperlink, the TOPtext gives a choice of going to the original destination or the advertiser's site.

    Holy hijacked surfers, Batman. It's bad enough that it changes your site in the eyes of the visitors, but screwing with your own navigation is over the top. It's one thing to turn normal text into links, but changing the links on a site is something else entirely.

    These people need to be sued.
  • Be sure your web sites all have yellow backgrounds.

    --SC

  • by ayden (126539) on Tuesday July 31, 2001 @01:06PM (#2178363) Homepage Journal
    You can opt out of this DURING THE INSTALL, which most people should have done anyhow. The easiest thing to do is to reinstall the product and OPT OUT then.

    I don't use IE as my default browser any how.

    Bruce Davis
    UNIX Systems Administrator
    Lernout & Hauspie Speech Products
  • by bob|hm (139518) on Tuesday July 31, 2001 @01:42PM (#2178368) Homepage
    Here's a link to their website... shows the technology in action:
    http://www.ezula.com/Advertisers/Advertisers2.asp [ezula.com]

    --Bob
  • by www.sorehands.com (142825) on Tuesday July 31, 2001 @01:30PM (#2178369) Homepage
    This is more than just altering the content. It is altering the content and making it appear as part of the original content.

    This creates a false sense of attribution. This is what Ford claimed in it's case [2600.com] against 2600.

    This also relates to the framing cases.

  • by BadDoggie (145310) on Tuesday July 31, 2001 @02:17PM (#2178376) Homepage Journal
    Maybe this is more suitable as a submission to "Ask Slashdot"...

    I have a site -- The Official French Fries Pages [tx7.com] -- which I've managed to keep alive since 1996,[1] although I really need to upload a few new pages.

    Do I say, "Fine. Whatever. You wanna look at my page and links the wrong way, I don't care," and just let anarchy reign supreme? I mean, I'm a "Slashdotter", right? I've been here for a few years (although I couldn't be bothered to register for a while), and I'm certainly an "0ld sk3wl Internet-doofus" (since '86). This is just more crap that I can ignore, and anyway, we all hate frivolous lawsuits and copyright bullshit... unless it hits home.

    Or do I look at it like RIAA or MPAA: This is my goddamned IP [tx7.com]. Them's my links and my lame DoubleClick ads (which have netted me at least $180 over 18 months). I'll sue you bastards for every penny my shyster can get!

    Oh how ugly reality can be.

    While the above was meant, at least in part, as sarcasm, I truly am unsure what to do. I could be tempted to join a class action to prevent the modified display of my site, not for the money but for the principle.

    Do I not have a right to say what can and cannot be done with my creative works? And doesn't RIAA say the same thing?

    "Morals suck, Beavis."

    woof.

    [1] Don't give me any shit about using FrontPage. I always demand HTTP 2.0 compliance and I got tired of writing six or more versions of each and every page so that any browser could see it. And if another standard came out, I had to rewrite all the pages with a version for those browsers, too. At least I edit the FP "code" and cut the actual size down about 60%. And you can still view the site in lynx!

  • by Mr_Person (162211) <mr_personNO@SPAMmrperson.org> on Tuesday July 31, 2001 @01:22PM (#2178387) Journal
    Further searching on Google [google.com] show's that yep they're the same. Here's an article [mp3sneak.com] about the history of Music City and Morpheus. Also, a very informative OpenP2P article [openp2p.com] which details the server structure used by Kazaa and morpheus. Also interesting to note that both use FastTrack [fasttrack.nu] software to build their networks. According to the FastTrack website, their software is also used in another client, Grokster [grokster.com] (annoying pop-up warning).
    --
  • by Erasmus Darwin (183180) on Tuesday July 31, 2001 @02:22PM (#2178407)
    I would like to exclude such stories from my homepage. Why? Because I don't run Windows.

    This story is relevant to the following groups:

    • Windows users who install KaZaA
    • People who design web pages that may be visited by Windows users who install KaZaA (the story even specifically mentions the opt-out address for site owners to mail)
    • People interested in the copyright ramifications of a service that surrepticiously alters how web pages look to viewers
    • People interested in the legal ramifications of piggy-backing one software install on top of another -- this isn't a Windows-only issue; Linux has closed-source software, too. Regardless of whether or not you personally only use open-source software, some closed-source software would still be relevant in a Linux-only topic.
  • by beejhuff (186291) on Tuesday July 31, 2001 @04:05PM (#2178411) Homepage

    This misses the point.

    The truth of the matter is that the rights it affects are the rights of the publishers of the website.

    I am a recent victim of Top Text. I am a systems architect for a VAR/distributor of IBM Products. We have several custom sites we have developed for contracts with State Governments for the purchase of IBM and other hardware.

    One of the explicit requirements of several of these contracts is that there be NO LINKS TO EXTERNAL SITES, supposedly to prevent their users from downloading any infected programs or files. We can't even offer files for download on the site ourselves.

    So, when IBM bought ads on Top Text to create those hideous yellow links to their own ecommerce site, they appeared on our own catalogs. Not only were they causing to break a contract worth MILLIONS of dollars, they were stealing business from us. Great way to treat a business partner, no?

    Anyhow, we found an interesting solution that did NOT require the sending of email to Top Text. We added the meta tag MS provides to disable Smart Tag rendering. Bye-Bye Top Text links.

    So, apparantly Top Text is lying. We never emailed them, all we did was add the meta tags to all of our pages, and those nasty yellow links disappeared. Apparantly, the plug-in is using the Smart Tag SDK or something, and you can easily disable it.

    Still Sucks, Though !!!!!

    BJ Hoffpauir
    Systems Architect

    Time Trend, Inc.
    www.timetrend.com [timetrend.com]

  • by ichimunki (194887) on Tuesday July 31, 2001 @03:06PM (#2178422)
    Nice try. :)

    If we implemented the all new CryptoKey plug-in, and required it to view our website, then this yellowlink thing would be illegal if it interfered with our plug-in, per the DMCA. As plain text, I'd say Fair Use reigns. While Fair Use is protected by the fact that there are exceptions for it written into the law, nothing in the law says that a content provider has to make it possible for you to Fairly Use their materials. (It would be nice if more consumers would refuse to buy things that take away Fair Use, but so goes life...)

    Personally, I don't see what the big deal is with these yellow links, or smart tags. If the users like it and continue to support it by using it or paying for it, then that's their problem. It's no different than if I want to use my own CSS to make pages readable, or if I want to run the page through a translator, or out to the speech synthesizer. Well it is different... because in this case the installation of the program is done somewhat sneakily, and in the case of Smart Tags, well, it's dodgy because it's Microsoft. But the underlying principle is the same.
  • by BlowCat (216402) on Tuesday July 31, 2001 @01:41PM (#2178441)
    If you have a popular file-sharing program called KaZaA
    I think it's time to add one more /. section - news for Windows users. I would like to exclude such stories from my homepage. Why? Because I don't run Windows. I already know that installing closed-source software is like trusting your root password to Mr. CEO of MegaCorp, Inc. That's why I don't.
  • by baptiste (256004) <mike.baptiste@us> on Tuesday July 31, 2001 @01:03PM (#2178471) Homepage Journal
    Regarding junk like this - are there legal ramifications? If a website's content is copyrighted and this software ALTERS the content before it is presented to the user - are they liable in any way for mucking up the web site content? Doesn't copyright law prevent alteration of copyrighted material?
  • by Bugaboo (266024) on Tuesday July 31, 2001 @07:00PM (#2178481)
    This is the meta tag:

    <meta name="MSSmartTagsPreventParsing" content="TRUE">
  • by dhamsaic (410174) on Tuesday July 31, 2001 @02:38PM (#2178505)
    hey hey hey... they only cut you off if you're downloading copyrighted material and get a complaint filed against you - which isn't likely to happen if all you download is pr0n, like me :)
    --

You can tell how far we have to go, when FORTRAN is the language of supercomputers. -- Steven Feiner

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