News and commentary from the cross-platform scripting community.
Mail Starting 5/8/97
Dave, if you are concerned about this law, please check it out at http://www.clark.net/pub/rothman/gacode.htm (Margie Wylie includes this URL in her www.news.com column, but doesn't appear to have read the law).
From: email@example.com (by way of Brent Simmons);
Sent at 5/8/97; 2:51:50 PM;
Has anyone read the Georgia law in question?
In the opinion of the computer policy people here at the University of Georgia, the law does not make links or use of logos on web pages or use of pseudonyms illegal. What it does attempt to do is to prevent the use of logos and other "official" emblems to represent yourself fraudulently as someone you are not.
For example, if I were to create a Scripting News site with Frontier cactus icons on it and to identify myself on that page as Dave Winer, I would be in violation of this particular bit of the Georgia code.
The law came about as a result of certain state representatives setting up a web page that incorporated the state seal -- which, to other state reps, looked like an attempt to present that page as the "official" state legislature web site. The bill was a direct result of this infighting among our would-be web-savvy legislators. It's a badly-written law, but not exactly worthy of a CDA-style hue and cry. (I can think of several other Georgia laws that are far more dangerous to civil liberties.)
Like every other state, Georgia has lots of web servers, with lots of pages containing lots of links. I am not aware of a single instance of this law being used to restrict web content, outside the internecine squabbles of the Georgia legislature (I would very much like to hear from or about anyone who is facing criminal charges under this law).
Its total lack of impact in or out of Georgia has not prevented the net media from presenting this law as the next great threat to the Internet. Unfortunately, this failure to check facts is more likely to damage the credibility of journalists than it is to dissuade my legislators from passing additional stupid laws.
This episode seems to be a good example of how people reading and publishing on the web are increasingly substituting clicking and linking for paying attention and trying to understand. The net media and the net community as a whole might do well to spend a little less time reacting to imagined threats and more time trying to listen, to read, and to reason.
I should note that these views are my own, and are not expressed as a representative of the University of Georgia.
I've been enjoying the commentary on controlling links to websites. I was faced with a similar issue several months back.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org> (by way of Brent Simmons (Keola Donaghy);
Sent at 5/8/97; 12:04:02 PM;
I maintain websites for some of the most popular musicians in the state of Hawai'i, http://www.interpac.net/~nahenahe/. I do it for fun, not profit, as most of them are friends, and frequently volunteer their talents to support the Hawaiian language programs that I am involved in. I also realized that if they had to pay someone to do websites, most probably would not.
A few months ago a group of industrious individuals stared up a web service that featured chat rooms and a discussion forums on Hawai'i, its culture, music, etc. I thought it was a quite interesting idea, so I checked it out. I found to my initial horror that most of the BBS room contained links to each of the artist sites I had done. The creator of each of these rooms had his own picture posted, next to the link to the site I had done. It appeared to me that they were creating a discussion board for *my* web site, and treating it as their own. They also created a discussion board for my office's web site http://www.olelo.hawaii.edu/, and it again appeared to be a part of their web site, instead of mine. My sites were not framed within theirs, but I could not lose this feeling that somehow all my hard work had been "lifted" by someone else.
Resisting the initial urge to flame them on the issue and demand that they remove the links, I sat back a few days and pondered. Why had I created the pages in the first place? For my own ego, or to expose the music of some wonderful, talented friends? When I realized that their links could only increase exposure and traffic flowing back to the pages I created, I just let it go. If they make a buck off of selling add space on a page that simply contains a link to my site, big deal.
I'd love to see the various companies that run Web search engines and other sites remove all their links to the Ticketmaster site and see how quickly their traffic drops 90%, and see how quickly the lawsuit gets dropped.
I've been enjoying - and especially, connecting - with your recent DaveNet pieces (Proof That You Exist, Do You Have a Head?, The Perfect Parent, Programmers). Thank You for once again being a mirror, and for furthering the journey for all of us, on many different levels.
From: email@example.com (Scott Weiss);
Sent at 5/8/97; 1:43:52 PM;
Synchronicty. I, too, am reading Conscious Loving right now, along with my now tattered copy of one of Gay's earlier books - Learning to Love Yourself, and his latest, The Corporate Mystic. http://hendricks.com/.
I'm constantly exhilarated (and, I must also admit, challenged) by the depth,simplicity & clarity with which they've evolved their work and woven the same basic principles into the different contexts of self, love relationships, family, friends, the work world, death, etc... You know, the Universe & all those basic life issues, which originate from the same "points" in all of us, as you refer to in "Proof..." Much the way you express yourself thru your work and writings.
BTW, if you're not already familiar with Poi Dog Pondering http://www.poiHQ.com/poi/, turn yourself on to them. Do the music and lyrics justice and give a listen. Fits right into this whole discussion. Not sure where to suggest as a starting point, as I have been listening to all of their discs constantly during the past few days. What the hey, if you like the band, go for all of the discs - you won't go wrong! I can just imagine you opening a DaveNet piece with reflections on some of Frank Orrall's lyrics & music.
Poi Dog just yesterday released a Double Live disc called Liquid White Light, and are generating an outrageous amount of excitement & NRG within their loyal following in Chicago & around the country. Maybe LWL is the best starting point.
Tempest in a Teapot Time again. Everyones' panties are in a wad over the impending peril facing the Web if legal challenges to "unauthorized" linking are upheld. Guess what the Internet does with individuals, organizations, and governments that don't play by the collective, for-the-common-good rules? It snips them off and they wither and die.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Chuck Shotton);
Sent at 5/8/97; 9:58:44 AM;
The first company to make an ass out of itself by calling unauthorized links off limits will find that it has NO links to its site from anywhere else on the net and is paying a bunch of expensive Web talent to babysit a white elephant. Any company with a marketing brain in its head would realize that the more links, the better. Would you rather have a shop at the intersection a dozen major highways or a shop at the end of a 5 mile dirt road with a No Trespassing sign on the gate? What do you care if there are billboards around your store that you don't own or control? Traffic is traffic.
The Ticketmaster suit shows just how unenlightened senior management can be when it comes to making rational decisions. Rather than let Microsoft send a lot business its way, Ticketmaster would rather not have the links so it can protect for itself some nascent, unprofitable ad revenue that it thinks Microsoft is making at its expense.
I fully expect that the first court win for the greedy corporate bozos who think owning a hyperlink is their god-given right will result in a flood of widespread public announcements of sites that have no restrictions whatsoever. And the "winner" will be snipped off, to dry up and blow away down their lonely dirt road.
The whole issue of linking is one thing. But there's another part of the Georgia law that wasn't mentioned. It is essentially illegal in Georgia to identify yourself with a username, email address, screen name, or whatever you want to call it that is not your actual name. So, for example, email@example.com is perfectly fine, but MrCool@aol.com is illegal in Georgia.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Niel M. Bornstein);
Sent at 5/8/97; 10:39:12 AM;
The Georgia law
The idea behind the law was to protect unsuspecting surfers from following a link to website identified by a logo or name, but which was actually a spoof set up to steal their money. Same with the username bit, but the legislators didn't realize that domain names are not the same as usernames.
Anyway, your link doesn't break the law. If you used the trade name C|Net or news.com, or their logo in your link, then, yes, that would break the law.