posted Mar 14, 2001

Better Business Bureau tries to stop Web links
Free Speech
3/14/2001; 9:09:35 PM 'The Better Business Bureau is demanding that an Israeli company's Web site take down its link to the consumer protection organization.

'The demand raises new intellectual property questions about how companies protect their names and logos online. A trademark expert said that the group has little chance to enforce its demand in court....'

'Zialcita said the bureau allows links from the news media, government agencies, schools and bureau members. She said the organization also allows links to search engine sites because ``we can't stop them.'''

ROBOTS.TXT, anyone? (Granted compliance is voluntary... all compliance in this case is volunatarily.)

Their argument:

'The e-mail from Beth Zialcita, a trademark enforcer at the organization, says the link ``may imply or mislead consumers into assuming that our organization supports your business or that there is a business relationship between us.'''

I'm sorry, but the position that people routinely interpret links on the Internet as "support" or "business relationships" is absurd. Does anyone reading this site seriously think I'm employed by Wired merely because I post a lot of links to them?

Also not in the article, the e-mail contains the phrase 'In addition, materials from our web site is [sic] copyrighted, and, therefore, cannot be linked to without permission from the BBB.'  That is one heck of an "however"! I'd like to hear a little expansion on that logic there. Are they seriously claiming I can't point people to the Better Business Bereau home page simply because it's copyrighted? Which exact "right" in "copyright" bans me from referring to the BBB?

BTW, that's not the first time I've linked to them, although it's not on this site. I once actually pointed somebody to them because they wanted to get help with the kind of problem the BBB is supposed to exist for. The irony of an entity like the BBB, who you'd think would want every link and bit of publicity it could get, trying to suppress information about its existance is astounding.


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