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:: By Scraping This Site, You Agree To…

So, in a weird bit of synergy, i was wondering about what sort of bots were scraping my site. (That was the spur for the previous post)

Shortly after i did that, i listened to the latest episode of Planet Money, called “Surprise! You Just Entered a Contract!“, which talked about the history and general pervasiveness of all the “Terms of Use” links. In essence, they’re binding contracts between you and the service or data provider. What’s worse is that the only thing that is under legal review is “how noticeable” those links happen to be. How noticeable? Here’s the link for AirBnB:

A screen capture of the bottom of the AirBnB site that declares the copyright, along with the words "Terms" and "Sitemap". Neither Terms nor Sitemap appear to be links.

If your curious what the terms are (and you really should be) here they are.

All a site has to do is basically make a link stand out a little bit. Many of those terms specify “by using this site you agree“, or some words to that effect, and they’re legally binding.

So, while that sucks for you and me and everyone who blows by those not really obvious links, it does make me wonder just how applicable they can be.

The big AI vendors are always touting how amazing their services are, and how they’re great at comprehending the data and providing understanding. That’s an interesting thought. If i included a similar sort of license, that required that all my data only be used (in whole or in part) as part of a CC-SA license, and that link was included in a file i know that the site must read before processing any other data, (like the robots.txt file), would the AIs (and therefore their creators and employers) be legally bound to those terms?

i mean, i’m not a lawyer, nor do i play one on TV, nor did i stay at a particular branded hotel chain last night, so i am NOT one to argue any of this.

But, i can have fun thinking about it.

And i bet some lawyer could make a good bit of cash actually arguing about it.

Blogs of note
personal Christopher Conlin USMC Henriette's Herbal Blog My Mastodon musings Where have all the good blogs gone?
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