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Categories: Bad reviews, Internet, Newspapers. Tags:

Ow.ly and Hootsuite in widespread breach of newspaper / other site T&Cs

March 25, 2009 4 Comments

URL shorteners are common on Twitter. For instance, I used ow.ly (from Hootsuite) to shorten http://technology.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/tech_and_web/article5973731.ece to http://ow.ly/1qtl.

However, rather than redirecting to the target URL, like most URL shorteners, ow.ly is framing the destination URL, in direct contravention of many sites' T&Cs.

Example of ow.ly ignoring no-framing terms and conditions

Owly framing other websites - against their T&Cs

Owly framing other websites - against their T&Cs

The Times, for instance, says "unauthorised framing of or linking to the Website is prohibited". This screenshot shows how ow.ly is ignoring this.

The title is the Times's site's, the content is from the Times ... but the URL is still the ow.ly one, there's an ow.ly box along the top of the page, and there's no Times favicon.

T&Cs forbidding framing are common (as are newspapers and other sites forbidding deep-linking) - and ow.ly is ignoring them.

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4 Comments »

  • Well, "ow.ly is ignoring them" seems to be a little over the top. They just didn't bother to read all the T&Cs of those pages they're creating short links for and in turn didn't respect the "unauthorised framing" thing in their redirection thingy.

    So, what might be a solution for this? I don't think and expect the URL shortening services to read all those (sometimes weird) T&Cs. Wouldn't it just be better if you could link to where ever you want? Even frame the content if the "frame" isn't that disturbing?

    I guess the various URL shortening services will have to obey the T&Cs eventually. In the end they're creating links and should be responsible for them - if the links violate some T&Cs they should be removed. This will result in a lot of "overhead" for ow.ly & Co. ...

  • Phil says:

    It's almost impossible to programatically interpret T&C's and you can't expect these services to manually trawl through the whole of the web.

    Perhaps the w3c should step in here with a recommendation for sites that don't wish to be deep linked or framed.
    A simple meta tag would make it very easy for both web developers and browsers to identify such sites.

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