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June 20, 2002 8:34 AM   Subscribe

NPR.com is now asking that you request permission to link to content on their site. What is the rational behind this? I could see how the dallas news was concerned with losing advertising revenu when they banned deep linking, but if I'm not mistaken, NPR is non-profit, right? What gives?
posted by Hackworth (30 comments total)

 
From the site:

Information about the entity that controls the Web site
Formal name:
Mailing address:
Please describe the entity's principal activities:


Well, I know he likes hiking...
posted by ColdChef at 8:46 AM on June 20, 2002


Non-profit does not mean you're not allowed to generate revenue. It means you're not owned privately or publicly and you don't make money for your owners. NPR still has expenses, and they're perfectly entitled to prevent ad revenue loss.
posted by starvingartist at 8:46 AM on June 20, 2002


could also be a copyright / rights issue. I don't belive that their work is automatically put into the public domain.
posted by rshah21 at 8:52 AM on June 20, 2002


If they want to "prevent ad revenue loss" they can learn how to use an htaccess file or roll a login system to prevent unauthorized access to their content. But if they're going to put their stuff on on the web--on a static page where it can be hit, then people will link to it, and it's silly to expect them not to.
posted by wheat at 8:54 AM on June 20, 2002


I'm not following how linking to a page would cause ad revenue loss. Wouldn't it, you know, make more people see their pages? With the ads?
posted by transient at 8:57 AM on June 20, 2002


well, in order for them to prevent ad revenu loss, they first need to have ads, which I don't see on their site.
posted by Hackworth at 8:58 AM on June 20, 2002


But if they're not trying to generate revenue this way (i.e. you need to ask permission but don't need to pay them to link to content), won't this simply stop a lot of people from linking to NPR at all?
posted by UnReality at 8:58 AM on June 20, 2002


... they're perfectly entitled to prevent ad revenue loss.

So I can't surf the site with images turned off? Or with entries in my hosts file to prevent doubleclick ads?
posted by donpardo at 8:59 AM on June 20, 2002


Can they legal "prohibit" someone from linking or framing their site? I know there have been a few key rulings on the "deep-linking" issue recently, but I haven't been keeping up.
posted by Shadowkeeper at 8:59 AM on June 20, 2002


When they stop taking public money I will honor the request.
posted by thirteen at 9:01 AM on June 20, 2002


For what it's worth, NPR doesn't receive any public money directly, except through competitive grants, which amount to only about 2% of their revenue (I got this data from rc3.org, btw). They sell programming to member stations which are usually funded with public money in addition to donations.

Also, this linking policy is not new. I know that it's been in place since late 1999 or early 2000 at the latest, because that's when I first noticed it.

I can understand why NPR might want to forbid deep linking to audio files on its site (which, when the user clicks on them, would not give any context as to where they came from), but I don't know that they could have legal power to stop someone from doing so. And in any case, as has been pointed out in this and any number of other deep-linking discussions, it's a trivial technical issue to stop such action. It seems to me that the technical solution is far preferable to a questionably legal one.
posted by daveadams at 9:09 AM on June 20, 2002


NPR's financials page.
posted by daveadams at 9:11 AM on June 20, 2002


which, when the user clicks on them, would not give any context as to where they came from

[crackling noise as feed kicks in] "...elcome back. It's two fifteen, and you're listening to National Public Radio. And now, the soothing sounds of Dave Brubeck."
posted by rory at 9:21 AM on June 20, 2002


but why do they forbid it? they don't have ads, is there some other way that deep linking would take away revenu?

or is it copyright? if you link to a page on their site, doesn't that kind of give it away that the content is theirs?

it's still making my brain hurt.
posted by Hackworth at 9:24 AM on June 20, 2002


1) The policy prohibts people from even linking to their main index page (http://www.npr.org/index.html) without prior consent. Which is proof of how idiotic their policy is.

2) European courts have consistently ruled that websites can prohibit deep linking -- not just to multimedia, but to any secondary (or deeper) page. The thought is that companies invest a lot of money into developing their main index pages; that is where most of their navigation and information is, and deep linking diminishes their rate of return.

American courts, on the other hand, seem to have no problem with deep linking. I hope they continue to uphold it; I think deep linking is an important documentation tool.
posted by jennak at 9:28 AM on June 20, 2002


Information about the entity that controls the Web site
Formal name:
Mailing address:
Please describe the entity's principal activities:


Could it be that this is the signals the start of a new internal NPR dating service? I mean, Carl Castle's voice can get anyones hormones bubbling, and Elizabeth Arnold's voice is like silk.. new meaning to deep linking perhaps!
posted by TuffAustin at 9:31 AM on June 20, 2002


Hackworth, did you make sure to fill out the form, before linking to the form?
posted by misterioso at 9:32 AM on June 20, 2002


When they stop taking public money I will honor the request.

Why would you even want to link to a source that takes public money?
posted by dack at 9:32 AM on June 20, 2002


Sylvia Poggioli! Yowza! That voice...
posted by ColdChef at 9:39 AM on June 20, 2002


misterioso: absolutly not. I agree with jennak that deep linking is important to the function of the internet as an information tool and it's a bad idea to mess with it.
posted by Hackworth at 9:41 AM on June 20, 2002


It seems to me they just want to know who, what, when, where, why and how their material is being used. It is a matter of control over their content and the way it is used by someone else. It is not an unreasonable request in the world of printed material. However, the web is NOT print, and I am not sure why they would bother putting something up on the net and then act oblivious to the nature of the medium they are publishing in. It is quite contrary.
posted by piskycritter at 9:44 AM on June 20, 2002


This has been circulating for some time — see Boing Boing, Electrolite and Slashdot.

Read the Wired article (plus the hilarious accompanying commentary piece) and Cory's take on it.

Some linking to this stuff, rather than just the linking policy itself, would not only have been good blogging etiquette (since it's likely the original poster came by it by one of the above sites, rather than discovering it), but would also have helped the discussion by giving it some context.
posted by mcwetboy at 9:47 AM on June 20, 2002


I only found it by daypop, which would hav given me too many options about where the link was seen to choose which to actually link to. Thanks for the wired article, though, I was unaware of that.
posted by Hackworth at 9:54 AM on June 20, 2002


From the artcile:
Dvorkin said he told the e-mailers "that NPR does not refuse links but it just wants to make sure that the links are appropriate to a noncommercial and journalistic organization.

and that answers my question. Thanks.
posted by Hackworth at 9:56 AM on June 20, 2002


piskycritter:

It seems to me they just want to know who, what, when, where, why and how their material is being used. It is a matter of control over their content and the way it is used by someone else.

actually, the web is pretty good about logging this kind of information. server logs tell you when (the time of access); who (the IP address); what (the page, the browser information); and how (via what referring URL). as to the why, i suppose some investigation might be necessary. i think that the NPR is underinformed as to the utility of the web, but hey.
posted by moz at 9:57 AM on June 20, 2002


actually, the web is pretty good about logging this kind of information

Um, yeah, that was the addedndum I forgot to include before finishing lunch. The very digital/electronic nature of the net lends itself far better to gathering this kind of data than requesting people to voluntarily submit the info. Which further demonstrates how witless this whole idea is, except may be from some twisted legal stand point.
posted by piskycritter at 11:51 AM on June 20, 2002


Why would you even want to link to a source that takes public money?
Actually, I do not remember ever having linked to any of their content. I would not feel obligated to accept their plea as long as they are taking (even a tiny bit) of public money is all I am saying.
posted by thirteen at 12:28 PM on June 20, 2002


bottom line: if you post content into a public forum like the web, you can't expect that other people aren't going to link to it. it's silly to expect otherwise. if people are stealing NPR's content, or misrepresenting it by presenting the content in a frame or something as their own-- then that's another issue entirely. Neither issue, though, IMO, can or should be solved by "applying" to NPR to link to their content. The web just doesn't work that way, nor should it.
posted by miscdebris at 4:23 PM on June 20, 2002


So my comments [self link] about Fiona Ritchie reading me Robby Burns in bed (and how hot I think Jennifer Ludden is) may not be appropriate to a noncommercial and journalistic organization?
posted by m@ at 9:58 PM on June 20, 2002


if you post content into a public forum like the web, you can't expect that other people aren't going to link to it.

This is a job for...Flash Pilot and the beautiful but mysterious Url Terminatrix.
posted by Opus Dark at 10:44 PM on June 20, 2002


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