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Censorship The Courts The Internet

Startup Threatened Into Settling Over Hyperlinking 333

Posted by timothy
from the naughty-anchortexts-forbidden dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A tiny startup that was threatened by a massive law firm over nothing more than a humble hyperlink has been forced to settle and change its linking policies, handing Goliath the win in this gratuitous trademark case. Under the agreement, real estate startup BlockShopper can no longer include hyperlinks anywhere on its website to Jones Day, a massive Chicago law firm, except explicitly on URL text. Essentially, is okay, but not blah blah blah." I wonder if the owners of feel the same way.
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Startup Threatened Into Settling Over Hyperlinking

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  • All those lawyers... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jeff DeMaagd (2015) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @10:25PM (#26945949) Homepage Journal

    ...and not one memo to a tech guy for a technological solution? I mean, if you don't like a site deep-linking into your own, isn't it a trivial one-line change to the server setup to block referrers?

  • by tekiegreg (674773) * <> on Saturday February 21, 2009 @10:26PM (#26945963) Homepage Journal

    This whole blah blah blah [] linking scandal is just so blah blah blah [] stupid. Heck maybe we can cue a blah blah blah [] Googlebomb to demonstrate just how bad Jonesday is with the handling of this blah blah blah [] issue.

    BTW: Jonesday, if you're thinking of suing me don't bother, I've got no money and know plenty of lawyers who will work for me anyways. It's not so much blood from a stone as it's blood from a raging inferno.

  • by Toe, The (545098) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @10:40PM (#26946029)

    A website is a public-facing document. It explicitly exists to transfer information from the operators' servers to the computer of anyone who for whatever reason accesses that server.

    It seems unreasonable to claim that there should be any sort of restriction on who can do what with the address that points people to your website. If you don't want people going there, then make your site password-protected.

  • by Potor (658520) <> on Saturday February 21, 2009 @11:22PM (#26946241) Journal
    "The first thing we do is kill all the lawyers" [] (Henry VI, Pt. II).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 21, 2009 @11:23PM (#26946247)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 21, 2009 @11:45PM (#26946369)

    According to this blog [] and many other sources, the lawyers in question were Dan Malone and Jacob Tiedt, who do indeed work at Jones Day according to their own [] web site []. It's not clear to me what, exactly the issue is there. The names involved in sales of a property are ordinarily recorded as public information (unless it's done through an agent or something). The information about these gentlemen's employment is right on their employer's web site. Is Jones Day claiming that putting this information together is illegal?

    The blog cites another article in a law journal about supposed concerns about privacy. Fair enough. But if that's the case then these guys have probably gone out of their way to keep all personal information private.

    Wait, what's this? Jacob Tiedt is a pretty distinctive name. There can't be too many of those in Chicago. And, wow, that's strange. Why the heck does the guy's name appear all over the place in a Google search [] that simply uses "Jacob Tiedt" and "Chicago"? Heck, one of the web pages registers his political donations which ALSO indicates that his employer/occupation is "Jones Day/Attorney" and gives his ZIP code. Lexis Nexis gives all sorts of details too [], and (gasp) links directly to the web site. Horrors. And, strange, apparently he doesn't have an unlisted number, because his name is easy to find in the various on-line white pages. It's almost as if he hasn't made the slightest effort to remain incognito.

    It looks like Jones Day is going to spend a lot of time in litigation if they want to expunge the web of any links to Jones Day and these guy's personal information, and half of the web pages are as a result of their initial attempts with Blockshopper. Hello? Streisand effect?

    The apparent remedy in the settlement was to prohibit links like this: Daniel P. Malone Jr. [], while links like this: [] are acceptable. Huh? I don't get it.

    What a farce.

  • by salesgeek (263995) on Sunday February 22, 2009 @01:27AM (#26946773) Homepage

    I somehow don't think that Jones Day could make their case against the poor guy if he had just represented himself.

    Jones Day was so wrong that the whole thing would have amounted to about $150,000 in lost hours representing the firm instead of paying customers.

  • by nyet (19118) on Sunday February 22, 2009 @01:47AM (#26946867) Homepage

    The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act does not cover publicly accessible URLs. It never has. Period.

    And even if it did, like most amateur, wannabe, condescendingly annoying, psuedo legal eagles, you are confusing "rights" with the law. There are rights that we have that the legistlature and judicial system consistently and repeatedly ignore. To make matters worse, they do it because of ignorant, shortsighted, luddite fools just like you. You disgust me. There is absolutely nothing morally wrong with deeplinking a to a publically available URL.

    Don't pretend for a minute that you know more about what is right and wrong than anybody here, let alone assume we are as completely ignorant of the law as you are.

  • by Ihmhi (1206036) <> on Sunday February 22, 2009 @02:33AM (#26947037)

    I think it would be unfair to call them "micro-dicked weasels" [].

    After all, micro-dicked weasels [] is a pretty hurtful term, don't you think? What if one of their potential clients see that all these people are calling them that (i.e. micro-dicked weasels [])? That would reflect poorly on them and we wouldn't want that.






    (micro-dicked weasels [].)

  • Re:This just in.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Sunday February 22, 2009 @02:43AM (#26947059) Journal
    We are actually going about this the wrong way. See, if you do a search for "Jones Day", the law firm still comes up first. What we need is something like Jones Day [] Jones Day [] Jones Day []! (Don't click on the links, trust me!!!) Or some other equally despicable site. Maybe we can get Jones Day the company off the front page of google (maybe not, but I can dream)!
  • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Sunday February 22, 2009 @04:57AM (#26947397)

    I was under the impression that Jones Day is a law firm. Lawyers generally don't strive on the reputation of being likable.

    Indeed, if I ever want to stop a website from linking to anything of mine (and I don't know why I ever would), I may call jonesday. Apparently they know how to do it. I might also key their cars on my way into and out of their offices, but I might have done that anyway just because they were lawyers.

  • Re:This just in.... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by skinnyrake (918686) on Sunday February 22, 2009 @08:04AM (#26947991) Homepage
    Perhaps we could link to Tom Jones Day [].
  • by Nitage (1010087) on Sunday February 22, 2009 @08:29AM (#26948083)
    The prosecutor was being a dick - TPB guy was just highlighting that fact.
  • by lalena (1221394) on Sunday February 22, 2009 @08:50AM (#26948165) Homepage
    25 straight rankings of all 1's today and he is now the lowest ranked judge on that web site.

    Go to the site's home page to see the top and bottom 10 judges: []

  • Re:oh yizzo (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PhreakOfTime (588141) on Sunday February 22, 2009 @09:38AM (#26948387) Homepage

    Im surprised that blockshopper settled out of court here.

    I had a similar experience, with regard to unpaid domains from a place I was doing contract work for.

    When the bills went unpaid, I posted a link to the county courthouse that listed all the current and pending cases said company had against it.

    Almost a year later, I got what is best known as a "Cease and Desist" letter in the mail from an attorney. The letter claimed all sorts of things, that I was knowingly committing libel, along with trademark and copyright violations as well. The threats included if I did not comply were restraining orders, fines, and CRIMINAL charges being filed against me.

    So what did I do? I never responded to the letter, and I posted the letter on my website, for all to read. So now, something that had about 1-2 hits a month, went up to being seen by 10,000+ people. And the lawyer who attached himself to this attempt, is forever associated with it.

    You can read the incompetent attempt at a Cease and Desist Letter [] here. The company who felt this was an ethical approach was Caton Commercial []

    And now, one year later, I have not heard a single response to that letter. Although, in all honesty I wish that I could have gone into a court room, and heard the lawyer who wrote that letter try to explain his case to a judge that the county was publishing libelous information by posting the schedule of its own cases online publicly.

  • Re:oh yizzo (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 22, 2009 @11:59AM (#26949293)

    I just couldn't resist sending a message through their contact page with every field being asshole; even the telephone number being 555asshole. I assert that the comments were a parody of the and therefore protected.

There are two major products that come out of Berkeley: LSD and UNIX. We don't believe this to be a coincidence. -- Jeremy S. Anderson