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PlanetLaunch
08-14-2001, 02:37 PM
I thought everyone should know that the eZula company (developers of TopText which is included in the Kazaa software - over 6 million copies downloaded) will NOT exclude any websites from being mangled and bastardized. This insidious software adds disgusting yellow links all over your website (as viewed in the visitor's browser) which direct visitors to THEIR advertisers.

Bottom line, THEY modify your website without permission, THEY steal visitors from your website, THEY generate advertising revenue from your website and YOU get nothing. Their is no way to opt-out your website from this degradation (see attached message below).

What makes this potentially so bad for all of us is the fact that they have partnered with Kazaa ( a very popular free peer-to-peer software ) in order to infiltrate and infect the millions of users of the Kazaa software.

If we have any legal experts here, I would love to hear how we can start a class action law suit to stop this cancer from spreading.

You may also want to read eZula's reply to my email message requesting that they cease and desist from modifying my websites without authorization.

Best Regards,
PlanetLaunch

======================================

Hello,

Thank you for your interest in eZula's new TopText technology. TopText is an optional Web browser plug-in, affirmatively chosen by users to augment their browsers' display of Web pages. TopText is a client-side application that resides on the user's personal computer and operates on content from anywhere on the Web, just like any other client-side application, including for example ISPs' proxies and the like. It overlays a web page with an extra set of contextually-relevant links, clearly differentiated in yellow from the browser's standard hyperlinks.

Extending upon the way typical Web browsers permit users to change the font size and color or hide images on a displayed Web page, TopText offers users a filter or lens to supplement their browsing experience. After users agree to use the TopText plug-in, the users are notified that yellow links overlaid by TopText are not part of the Web pages they are viewing.

We believe that TopText enriches the surfing experience by offering a willing user additional options without interfering with any of the text, design or appearance of your website. The additional links are keyed to keywords and phrases, and not to the web pages viewed. As a general matter, eZula does not exclude websites from viewing through the TopText plug-in on a site-by-site basis. We apologize if misquoted statements in a Slashdot story gave the mistaken impression that we would do so.. However, TopText does not modify the text of your pages or attribute any extra links to you - your authorship of the original page remains clear and distinct. Like NBCi's QuickClick , TopText offers browsers a way to get more information about Web pages. In most cases, only a few words or phrases per page will be highlighted with TopText information.

We hope this addresses your concerns. Please do not hesitate to contact us if we can answer any further questions about the TopText technology.

[Deleted section where they have the gall to try to get me to advertise with them]

The eZula Team.

=========================================

margaret
08-14-2001, 02:44 PM
i received the exact same email when i asked that my domains be blocked, including the excremental offer to sell me their service.

Celtor
08-14-2001, 04:17 PM
All they do is legal but confusing. Software can modify the content downloaded by anyone with their express knowledge and consent.

It would be illegal if they modify content withouth user knowledge.

Important is that if everyone who receives changed content gives their consent for the changing, knows that it is being changed, and how, then it is legal.

It works very similar to proxy servers removing banner ads from HTML. It is perfectly legal, just like scribbling in a book you have bought, or ripping pages out of a book you have bought is legal.

In this case ilegal is redistributing modified content. In most cases,HTML is copyrighted but they dont distribute modified copies of their site.

It changes design? Thats true but what about old browsers dont reading properly advanced HTML properly? Thay change design much more - will you acuse browser producer?

hammer
08-14-2001, 04:38 PM
Does anyone know if site logs are able to identify surfers using these products?
i.e: Referrers, or IP modifications

The ultimate goal would be to block these users from entry, warning that that program they have installed directly violates this sites terms of use policy.


???

PlanetLaunch
08-14-2001, 06:04 PM
Sorry Celtor but you are very wrong.

The examples you describe as being similar to TopText - old browsers and proxy servers - are way off base.

Old browsers and proxy servers DO NOT insert advertising links into your content.

Scribbling in a book that you bought is also a bad example because at that point you OWN the book and it is your property to do with as you wish. Scribbling all over a website that you do not own is called hacking.

Also to clarify, TopText is installed by default when you install Kazaa. It is required that you go into the installation settings to turn off TopText. And we all know that 95% of all people just use the default settings.

There is no two ways about it. This company plans to use you website as a new launching pad for its advertisers by placing hideous ad links all over your website.

I will not stand by and let someone steal from my house. We must organize forces to defeat this enemy of us all.

PlanetLaunch

Rhea
08-14-2001, 06:17 PM
Perhaps Steve could invite them to join us for a roundtable discussion about their business practices. :argue:

I also received the same email in response to my request that my sites be blocked. Not real bright of them, IMHO. Now all of a sudden I'm getting the most bizarre spam I've ever seen from all kinds of companies. I'm thinking maybe they sell their mailing list. Nah...they wouldn't do that...would they? :angel:

Steve_S
08-14-2001, 06:20 PM
You have my absolute and total support on the TopText issue. This must be stoped.

This week is "hell" for me as I have a bunch of sites to move and propagate. If you need financial contributions, free hosting, or other resources that I might be able to provide the Community, just ask.

Can we get some links to a few screen captures posted. Your site, my site, any site. Then let's see how "PC" this service is with a few screen captures from the major SE and or Directories. Do they do this to MSN, Google, AOL etc?

Anyone with a site in another language? Screen captures would be very informative.

HTH

JJJay
08-14-2001, 10:48 PM
I was wondering why nobody has mentioned http://www.quickclick.com/ as far as I am aware their software does exactly the same thing as Ezula, adds links to websites. OK the http://www.quickclick.com/ software must be downloaded but NBCi has the money to promote that, I've seen http://www.quickclick.com/ ads on TV already. As far as I am concerned the http://www.quickclick.com/ software is the bigger of the two evils as they have a monopoly backing them. Who would dare take them to court!!!

Steve_S
08-15-2001, 02:55 AM
Here are my preliminary findings on the uninstall/remove of the latest version of Kazaa. I'm less than inthralled with this type of behavior.

System:

win2k sp1
IE 5.5

I installed it and got the little "bandit" running. Next the uninstall via the control panel. Both Kazaa and TopText appeared to be uninstalled/removed but thats simply NOT true.

The sucker was still resident in memory even after I closed it down and the manual remove. It required 7 manual edits to my registry plus a few deleates of some files. A system restart and all is well. I will do this again after a good nights sleep.

How the heck is the average non geeky surfer going to uninstall this app? They arent!

<Perhaps Steve could invite them to join us for a roundtable discussion about their business practices>

I have already invited them but given the responce I have already seen from them over at GH it would be an insult to our intelligence. All they did was copy and paste the form email they send out and they even had enough gall to include an advert in it.

A "pressure point" to use is their advertisers who are inserting their adverts on your site! via TopText.

jpoc
08-15-2001, 03:36 AM
I have a few ideas for defeating or subverting top text links.:devil:

I'll set some of them up on a webpage later today to see how they work.

But, what I need is some info.

Please can somebody who has tested top text, email me a few examples of text that is currently triggering top text links. (I'd rather not infect one of my own machines if somebody can give me the info.)

I assume that I'll not be breaking any forum rules it I then post the url here?

jpoc@jpoc.org

MattC
08-15-2001, 03:53 AM
I just installed it and went to News.com (a cnet company) and boom... got a popup that said: What are these yellow links?

Then it explained how nice TopText is! :confused:

I'm currently writing a program that should uninstall it from someone's comp (remove reg settings, delete the thing it puts in windows dir, etc)

Putting something that installs itself in my winnt dir is not nice at all :mad:


http://comet.gv2.net/matt/toptextexample.gif

Thats what it did to news.com!

That link took me here:
http://www.premierequity.com/

Which on that page had like 9 ugly yellow links to that very page!

http://comet.gv2.net/matt/equityexample.gif

This seem to be very much like ClickQuick, how come they came out of this all nice and peachy?

I couldn't find out how to DL this without kazaa, but it did let me decheck if I wanted to install these 3rd party "helper" apps. I don't think most people would notice though as people tend to smash enter when installing things :)

-Matt

LastActionHero
08-15-2001, 04:25 AM
I don't understand how this is legal? Changing or modifying the pages on the website's content without the permission of the webmaster is legal?


This is worse than smart tags. Atleast MS had a solution to allow webmasters to disable smart tags. Ezula are just a bunch of hungry profit seekers.

JP Sauve
08-15-2001, 08:15 AM
Didn't someone mention in a previous post that the meta tag to disable the MS Smart Tags will also disable TopText on your site?

prize-o-matic
08-15-2001, 09:26 AM
Even though TopText's process of converting plain text into a link to an external advertiser is maddening for advertisers like us, it really can't be considered illegal.

This browser plug-in must be accepted/installed by the surfer. They, the private user of the content, are allowed to do anything they see fit to the content, either directly by manually changing the HTML, or indirectly through this plug-in. As long as the user doesn't republish the changed content, no copyright/ownership laws are broken.

Here are some other equivalents:

1- Rip a CD into an MP3 file. If you'd rather listen to the song at double speed than at its original speed, you are perfectly entitled to burn a CD with the double-speed song, provided you don't post the change back on the net, or share it with all your friends.

2- Don't like your Prime Minister/President? You are perfectly free to scribble all over his picture on the newspaper. The newspaper/photographer can't do anything about it, provided you don't send the change to thousands of people.

3- Recording your favourite TV show, but using a "do not record commercials" enabled VCR. The networks can't do anything about that.

As a publisher of webpages, you have copyright on the material. No one can copy/change it for redistribution. But once someone has obtained the material for their own personal use, it is within their rights to do anything they want with it, as long as they don't redistribute.

It's annoying for sure, but it's not breaking any laws.

WildComputer
08-15-2001, 10:40 AM
I'm not so sure about that Steve

Even though the users may or may not be doing anything wrong

Ezula are selling advertising on derivative versions of our content

We need an attorney's opinion, and even then I suspect we may get several opinions depending on who we ask and what we ask.

margaret
08-15-2001, 10:55 AM
from what i recollect about quick click, it is just eaten up with aureate spyware .dlls

is this the case with toptext?

Steve_S
08-15-2001, 11:27 AM
Some thoughts:

1) I suggest you spend the time to read Jim's thread at GH:

http://gethighforums.com/Forum10/HTML/001386.html

2) I have seen screen shots of TopText links inserted in a publishers CJ.com control panel. CJ, are you their?

3) I have seen the same at Findwhat.com on the home page AND inside lisitngs that folks are paying money for. Imagine paying a buck a click only to have your lisitng contain links to other sites.

4) Matt or anyone, can you please take some screen captures of our members (not the big properties) sites and post the URL? Please also include a few of our merchants. This should help illustrate this issue. Send me the bill :)

5) I'm getting ready to call my "buddy" Leslie Walker at the Washington Post so it would be nice if I could guide her to our screen captures.

JP Sauve
08-15-2001, 01:44 PM
Has anyone tested to see if TopText hijacks text that is already a link? Someone here had a screen shot where the word "loan" was turned into a TopText link. What if that text was already a link on the page, would the TopText link take precedence?

suresk
08-15-2001, 02:07 PM
A few things:

1 - When you consider how this "Top Text" software is installed, I doubt users are giving them explicit consent to do it. The box to pre-check it is vague and it is PRE-CHECKED! It is more of the user not saying no than them saying Yes. Two different things :) In fact, had I not been looking for it when I was installing KaZaA, I probably would have installed it too.

2 - This is totally different from copying CDs and such for personal use. The reason you can do stuff like that is called "Fair Use" or something like that. If I want to rip all my CDs into MP3's and stick them on a CDR to take with me so I'm not packing around 400 cds and such, thats Fair Use. I gave my money for the CD and I am entitled to listen to it and make copies for PERSONAL USE.

You can make copies for friends and such, and the record companies won't even say anything about it, but when Napster became big, why did they go after it so hard? Because it is automated and wholesale copyright infringement. Making a copy of a CD for your sister or son may fall under "Fair Use", but sticking a copy up where 500,000 people get it isn't Fair Use.

Now, how does this compare to TopText and such? If you want, you can go to my website and cover up any banner ads you see. You can print it out and give it to your cousin, friend, dog whoever and scribble out the ads if you want. But providing a means for automated, wholesale removal of ads on my site is not ok.

Another way to look at it - When I buy a CD I hand the cashier my credit cards and he/she swipes it through the machine. The store gets part of that money, as do the distributor, label, artist, etc. The consideration in this contract is the money I've paid. Once I give them that money, I have rights to listen to that CD and make copies for personal use.

The consideration when vieiwing a webpage is not usually money, but the ads on that page. If you view a page without the advertisements, or with the advertisement changed, you are not paying me and don't have rights to view that content or make copies for personal use and the like.

Plain and simple: Its like shoving a CD in your pocket and walking out of the store without paying.

WildComputer
08-15-2001, 03:05 PM
JP yes it will hijack an existing link

On gethigh I think they have examples of

- Toptext taking over paid links in FindWhat's results

- Toptext taking over the purchase link at a web site and sending it to a competitor's site

- Toptext taking over an advertising link (About.com) and diverting it to the same advertiser --- but in this case TopText get's credit instead of the host site (About)

Celtor
08-15-2001, 03:14 PM
Hi PlanetLaunch

I still think it is legal, i had in mind proxies servers with configurable filters removing i.e advertising banners. It works in the same way - they change content and cut off webmasters revenue.

What about this software Look here : http://www.zonelabs.com/zap26_za_grid.html This adsubstract software. When i see it and imagine that my visitors can use it i hate it , but it is completly legal. Same with software discussed in this thread.


Book example - Yes sure - is your own book and u can do with it what you want. but you cannot distribute books with changed content (removed sites in this case) it is still copyright.

And user can do what he want with code on his hdd (code is changed on his own PC for his own purposes)- of course he / she should allow this software doing it, and should know that content was changed by it. If ne dont know it and in software TOS it isnt clearly said it is illegal.

You can download any copyrighted picture from the net and do what it what you want (on your own HDD)

And finally although it is legal (in my opinion) should be the way to stop it.

My idea is to add to site script checking something like control sum from html and compairing it with value shoul be. When value is different shuld dispaly info for user about changet content and dont display anything, like alere abut virus or something.

OC
08-15-2001, 03:15 PM
Since it hi-jacks links, I can only imagine a newbie online. It would be like surfing in pandora's box.

jpoc
08-15-2001, 03:34 PM
I put some pages up at www.jpoc.net/toptext/index.html

If the reports in here are true that toptext will actually change an existing link then one of my ideas is toast.

Also, I'm in a hurry as I have other stuff to do this evening and I don't have the time to figure out how to make some of my links and underlines look exactly like top text but I'm certain that it can be done.

If something like derision or pseudo links might be viable, I'd suggest holding off contacting the media for a little while. We'd need a system to collate and propagate info about what links and merchants top text were running but if we could get a large number of independent sites to use anti top text tactics, that might make a better news story.

Something along the lines of "large multi national company uses stealth technology to advertise on websites without paying the webmasters. But, the webmasters fight back by being cleverer than the big guys and they make the big guys look foolish."

If we could get (say) a tv business programme to run the story with that spin and perhaps get a VP of marketing for an affected advertiser to appear on TV to defend both his ethics and his intelligence, then we might just see top text die very fast indeed.

As for legality. I have my own views.

First, none of us as in IP rights lawyer so we know diddly.

But, (for what my diddly is worth) I own the copyright on my content. I grant a licence to my visitors to view that content on certain terms. Those terms include no ad blockers and they can easily include no top text. Now, if a visitor uses top text to view my content in contravention of the licence they are potentially in breach of US laws under the DMCA. Indeed, top text may count as a mechanism for breaching digital copyright under the DMCA. In that case, visitors and the operators of the top text system and also the advertisers are in breach of federal laws. If the music and movie industries can go after napster and DeCSS why cannot we use the same stick here?

Under EU laws, techniques such as deep linking and framing another's content are to be outlawed by pending legislation so this should also cover top text.

Oh, and I own the copyright to this message and I only grant you a licence to read it while you are standing on one leg with a carrot stuck up your nose. :p


jpoc

suresk
08-15-2001, 03:34 PM
And finally although it is legal (in my opinion) should be the way to stop it.

I agree. Either:

1) Let us submit our sites to be banned from it, ie they won't display the ads on our sites; or:

2) Force them to send a USER_AGENT string so we can tell when someone comes to our site and is using it so we can prevent the theft of our content.

PlanetLaunch
08-15-2001, 04:32 PM
Hi guys,

I think prize-o-matic and celtor make good points about the legality of this insidious software. But I beg to differ.

You really can't compare this software to someone sitting at home and burning their own mix cds or editing downloaded images on their harddrive.

Reasons:
1) The individual person at home is modifying the content for their own use. They are not replacing the original content with their own degraded version for millions of other people to see (TopText).

2) The individual has seen/heard the original version of the image/music before making changes based on personal preference. TopText does not allow the website viewer to see the original version of your website at all before displaying their commercialized version.

3) The person mixing CDs at home is not doing it for financial gain.

4) The person at home is not competing with the record company. While TopText is competing with you for advertiser's money.

5) The person at home has made the CONSCIOUS decision to change the music that they will individually listen to. TopText is bundled with popular freeware and installed by default by unknowing victims.

I have also heard that this software is legit because it is similar to someone buying a newspaper and then scribbling on it.

Well, I would say wrong again. TopText is more like someone taking the whole stack of newspapers from your corner newsstand, then scribbling over every fourth word in the entire newspaper and then sliding the newspapers back into the newsstand. Multiply this by a hundred thousand to get the actual magnitude of this software.

Also just think about it - if TopText was hooked up to your radio, it would change the chorus of every song to be the company jingle of their highest paying advertiser.

Think about this too - If this virus continues to spread among internet users, why should an advertiser pay to advertise on your site? They can just pay TopText to paste ads all over your site.

I think we can all agree that this is a terrible threat to all website owners and I am quite amazed that it has been allowed to spread this far. I can't believe that companies such as Amazon, Yahoo, AOL, etc. have not destroyed this enemy.

Actually what is even more amazing is that CNet (a company that generates the majority of its revenue from advertising) is the largest distributor of this cancer. Do they not realize that they are actually helping eZula steal their own advertising revenue? Could they be so out of touch, ignorant or indifferent? If CNet owned a house, they would be helping the thief load up their truck.

It is definitely time to launch an offensive strike.

PlanetLaunch
08-15-2001, 04:43 PM
"My idea is to add to site script checking something like control sum from html and compairing it with value shoul be. When value is different shuld dispaly info for user about changet content and dont display anything, like alere abut virus or something."

Great idea Celtor! Could an SSI be developed to redirect the TopText visitor?

There must be a way to detect that TopText is being used? If they use a particular user_agent than that would be easy. Checking the file length as viewed by the browser, then I am not sure how to do that.

Celtor
08-15-2001, 04:47 PM
Just wanted to add that when user dont know about it, and he/she thinks that advertisements where added by webmaster it is completly illegal.

It works in this case like proxy or filter but changes content withouth user knowledge.

Look, in this case all ISP and even routers producers,and lol modems, yeah lets make modem, give it for free to users and add ads to transfered html:)

could add own adveritements as kind fee for using they network devices.
Hmm it would be illegal,

I bet that software producer has info about ading text links in licence and user accept it pressing I agree button. It makes producer clear and thats y huge companies are involved in this kind of business. They have good lawyers and no way they would make something illegal according law, they are protected.

MattC
08-15-2001, 06:18 PM
Quick Note...

TopText does not change the HTML on the page so a CRC checker won't do much.

I opened up our friend in a hex editor.. nothing special that I noticed, except restrict.txt, not sure its anything though.

-Matt

paulj
08-15-2001, 06:27 PM
I'm not sure if you are already aware, but it would seem all this uproar has had some effect. I downloaded Kazaa from CNET/download.com today and the TopText 'plugin' option is no longer pre-checked. Also, the fist time a page is displayed that contains a link, a big pop-up is displayed to tell you what these links are.

It's still outrageous that they are doing this, but at least this is a step in the right direction.

MattC
08-15-2001, 06:32 PM
Was that your first time installing it?

Because I reinstalled it today and it everything except toptext was dechecked, it had remembered what I did last night (info is in the registry) .. but I remember by default that everything was checked!

Yeah, that popup can be found here:

http://www.ezula.com/TopText/pop-popup.html

-Matt

MattC
08-15-2001, 06:37 PM
The trouble with finding members sites with TopText links on them is that the keywords it underlines seem to have to do with loans, and other financial buzzwords.

I'm still looking but so far members page's don't seem to trigger it (only due to keywords it looks for, just wait until EVERYWORD is underlined :mad: )

-Matt

MattC
08-15-2001, 06:39 PM
Got it, check this out:

http://comet.gv2.net/matt/geektalk.gif

:angry1:

-Matt

paulj
08-15-2001, 06:48 PM
Originally posted by MattC
Was that your first time installing it?

Because I reinstalled it today and it everything except toptext was dechecked, it had remembered what I did last night (info is in the registry) .. but I remember by default that everything was checked!

Yeah, that popup can be found here:

http://www.ezula.com/TopText/pop-popup.html

-Matt
It was definately the first time I've installed Kazaa. I suppose it's possible TopText was previously installed by some other package that defaulted to unchecked and stored it my registry, but I'm pretty confident that isn't the case. The only other adware type program I have installed is Copernic.

MattC
08-15-2001, 06:54 PM
Here's how to detect Ezula from a webpage:

http://www.whirlywiryweb.com/q/ezula.asp

starluck
08-15-2001, 07:02 PM
I didn't know Premier Equity was such a big advertiser on Geek village.

I see the same thing as MattC demonstates in his link.

Visitors to my site have also informed me that the keywords casino, casinos, gambling, online casinos were hijacked. This included text inside a link. My workaround this so far is to put the words in a gif and link them that way, the drawback of course is increased bandwidth usage. The other way is to was to make keywords as part of a script. Neither of these is the ideal solution, however I think we're far away from any legislation which might prevent this in future.

WildComputer
08-15-2001, 07:16 PM
Try doing somethng like this to defeat a link hijacking

<A HREF=http://www.somesite.com>C<I></I>as<B></B>i<S></S>n<U></U>o</A>

Can anybody write a Perl routine to automatically do this into supplied text?

Steve_S
08-15-2001, 07:24 PM
Originally posted by MattC
Got it, check this out:

http://comet.gv2.net/matt/geektalk.gif

:angry1:

-Matt

<grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr>

Thank you. Can we please focus on these issues in this thread only as I'm about to take immediate action. I will ask nicely just once with a xxx number of hours and then I'm going to use my attorney. Respectfully, YOU had better be concerned about this even if your site is not yet defaced. If this issue is not stoped ALL sites will be defaced. Please excuse me for preaching :)

1) What is the exact URL of the above top text link on this BB?

2) Can you use our search to find other keywords that have toptext links? and provide the exaact URL which they lead to?

3) What are all the terms that are currentlty bidded?

4) Can you please create a post in our Test Forum with these bidded terms in them and provide the exact URL each of them lead to.

Thank you.

hammer
08-15-2001, 08:29 PM
The way I see it, this could in fact be the means to the end of online advertising for web site owners.

If this is not put to an end, companies will more than likely switch their current methods of advertising, or at the very least place a very low priority advertising with the current main stream ad networks.

Propagating the software will be their first major move, once this is completed I suspect they will own a large part of the market.

This type of ad will probably be very appealing to a majority of companies. Why bid for a search term when you can bid on a word that has the potential of being seen by millons on even the most obscure web site ( without the surfer having to do a thing ).

With banner ads lacking (flat), pop-ups and unders agrivating surfers, this newest hi-jacking software could kill the mom and pop web site owner.

CURIOUS - Does anyone know if this software does the same hi-jacking on Yahoo, goole, CNN ?

starluck
08-15-2001, 08:31 PM
My apologies upfront for making you wade through this long bit of code. This is a partial source of the dialog in the thread above by MattC. I certainly does appear to alter your site.

<FONT face="verdana, arial, helvetica" size=2>The trouble with finding members
sites with TopText links on them is that the keywords it underlines seem to have
to do with <SPAN
onmouseover="this.style.backgroundColor='yellow';this.style.col or='black'"
style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: transparent"
onmouseout="this.style.backgroundColor='transparent';this.styl e.color=''"><SPAN
onmouseover="window.status='';return true;"
title="Apply today for a PremierEquity loan!"
style="BACKGROUND-POSITION: left bottom; BACKGROUND-IMAGE: url(C:/PROGRA~1/eZula/images/new.gif); CURSOR: hand; BACKGROUND-REPEAT: repeat-x; BACKGROUND-COLOR: transparent; TEXT-DECORATION: none"
onclick="top.location.href ='ezula:/rlk;3148;1;http://www.ezula.com/KaZaA/redirect/redirect.asp?DS_ID=201011&amp;UV_ID=4309628;';window.e vent.cancelBubble=true;window.status='';return false;">loans<SPAN></SPAN></SPAN><SPAN></SPAN></SPAN>,
and other financial buzzwords. <BR></FONT>

Incidentally, the same links also appear on major bank sites I visited today to take care of business. They all go to the same destination as yours does. Every one of the banks I visited was affected by this. I wonder if they even realize this.

Another screencapture just as an FYI, this is one of Chase Manhattan bank.
screen capture click here (http://www.luckystars.net/chasescreencap.gif)

The keyword list is changes daily, as casino is not lighting up today, but was over the last several days.

gagsplus
08-15-2001, 08:51 PM
I wonder what it would do in an HTML type mailer if it would do the same type of thing or not? I have a test list setup on my server that we could whip up an example if anyone still has this nasty program installed, we can test this feature out.

Being in the humor/entertainment business it does effect me but not as much as some other larger sites. I do most my advertising in newsletters, but I would think this program would make a site look messy.

Wonder if KAzza/top text is available for MAC's?

Added info:

Funny thing is ezula has a link in the news section to an article:
http://www.ezula.com/news/media_coverage1.asp

talks about how some webmasters are ******, but some advertisers don't mind it from the brief view I read of it so far

MattC
08-15-2001, 09:04 PM
Wow!:eek:

Thanks starluck for pointing that out... I was basing my observations on this page:

http://www.google.com/search?q=loan

where if you look at the link it makes, the HTML doens't have a <HREF> tag or any sign on a link.

Description: Marketplace for mortgages, auto financing, credit cards and business financing.



-Matt

MattC
08-15-2001, 09:07 PM
I just checked this page and I didnt' see that code you mentioned.. could it be TopText (still have it installed) is preventing me from seeing this?

-Matt

OC
08-15-2001, 09:08 PM
This is going to be an uphill battle.

Kazaa was downloaded by 705,652 people on this week alone (it's only Wednesday). Kazaa has hovered around the same amount for weeks (if not tens of weeks). I'd estimate a good 3-5 million computers are all ready 'infected'.

hammer
08-15-2001, 09:08 PM
Am I correct in assuming this software will not "infect" Flash sites?

If so, this will be my next option for total site design.

It appears a web site owners can request not to have hyper links placed on their site by the toptext software by emailing support at support@ezula.com

Whether or not this will work remains to be seen..

http://slashdot.org/features/01/07/31/2015216.shtml

Even Steven
08-15-2001, 09:48 PM
I believe this is illegal.

I don't think it is illegal for readers of our content to modify it for their own use.

But that's not what is happening here. Our readers are using a tool to modify the appearance of our content. The company who creates the tool is able to generate revenue from our content.

Our content was created to for the use of our readers, not for the profit of other companies.

If a company like toptext wants to use our content to generate revenue, they have to license it from us.

Short of obtaining a license from us, they have effectively stolen the content. Our readers may have chosen to use this tool, which is within their right, but it cannot be used for someone else's commercial benefit.

Maybe a better analogy is if a company created a device that can be inserted into a CD-Player, such that everytime a CD is played, and the word, "water" is sung by the singer, the device replaces the word with "Cola-Cola". Then Coca-Cola pays the company 10 cents everytime the device makes the word substitution.

You'd better believe that the recording industry, as well as the recording artists, will go ballistic, and sue the pants off of them.

MattC
08-15-2001, 09:55 PM
Emailing Ezula will get you nowhere.. if you ask for your site not to be toptexted they will send you the generic "we don't do that, do you want to advertise with us" message.

-Matt

gethosted
08-15-2001, 10:41 PM
I completed an uninstallation program I plan to distribute, soon as I get it on a faster server than mine I'll post it here too.

malibber
08-15-2001, 10:48 PM
Donít take this as the gospel, because Intellectual property is not my specialty.

I suspect that copyright law wonít provide a lot of relief here because the user is the one modifying your site if it is being modified and not merely being overlaid. I am not even sure it would be wise as Webmaster to claim this falls under Federal Intellectual Property statutes because it may preempt you from bring a state cause of action. There are a couple of legal theories other than Federal Protection that might provide some relief.

Conversion
This is an old tort cause of action. That is the company (which ever one you want to insert here) is denying you the full use of your site (as the site owner) therefore converting it for their own purpose. The theory: you produced your site to be a money making venture, and along came this company and stole your ability to profit from your site.

Unjust Enrichment
This is a contracts cause of action donít worry you donít always need a contract to have a cause of action under this theory. In a nutshell the company (which ever one you want to insert here) is being unjustly enriched because of your efforts as a Webmaster. You work to produce something and they profit from your work product yet you are not compensated.

These are just a few ideas I came up with they may or may not be valid in your particular jurisdiction. Investigate these as they might provide you relief.

Also, if your site has a user agreement modify it so you make it clear that these services arenít welcome on your site.

If I get some free time I might research these a little further for my own litigation purposes.

suresk
08-15-2001, 11:14 PM
Thanks Malibber, Unjust Enrichment is what I was trying to think of earlier, but I couldn't remember the name.

A few things:

You said the user is the one modifying the content? First off, the modification is done by a 3rd party program with 3rd party data. Second, this program acts automatically. Third, it was installed with a pre-checked box and one-half line description.

I doubt many users installed this with a full knowledge of what they were installing and a realization of the implications of it. It isn't reasonable to expect your average Joe Internet Surfer to realize the implications of this program, and TopText never discloses it.

It still just blows me away that a company would do this and act like its perfectly normal and ethical.

malibber
08-15-2001, 11:37 PM
Originally posted by suresk
You said the user is the one modifying the content? First off, the modification is done by a 3rd party program with 3rd party data. Second, this program acts automatically. Third, it was installed with a pre-checked box and one-half line description.

I doubt many users installed this with a full knowledge of what they were installing and a realization of the implications of it. It isn't reasonable to expect your average Joe Internet Surfer to realize the implications of this program, and TopText never discloses it.



I didnít really go into it that way because for these theories I donít think it is necessary to determine who is making a modification to the site. Does anybody know what state or country these companies call home? My schedule clears up some next week and I think I might be sending out some certified letters.

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