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Old 08-14-2001, 02:37 PM   #1
PlanetLaunch
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Default Ezula is placing ads all over your site and stealing your visitors

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.

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

Last edited by PlanetLaunch; 12-27-2001 at 04:14 PM.
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Old 08-14-2001, 02:44 PM   #2
margaret
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Default me too

i received the exact same email when i asked that my domains be blocked, including the excremental offer to sell me their service.
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Old 08-14-2001, 04:17 PM   #3
Celtor
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Post It is legal

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?
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Old 08-14-2001, 04:38 PM   #4
hammer
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Default

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.


???
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Old 08-14-2001, 06:04 PM   #5
PlanetLaunch
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Default

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
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Old 08-14-2001, 06:17 PM   #6
Rhea
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Default

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

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?
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Old 08-14-2001, 06:20 PM   #7
Steve_S
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Exclamation

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
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Old 08-14-2001, 10:48 PM   #8
JJJay
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Default

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!!!
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Old 08-15-2001, 02:55 AM   #9
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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.

Last edited by Steve_S; 08-15-2001 at 03:11 AM.
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Old 08-15-2001, 03:36 AM   #10
jpoc
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Default fighting back

I have a few ideas for defeating or subverting top text links.

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
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Old 08-15-2001, 03:53 AM   #11
MattC
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Default

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!

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


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
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Old 08-15-2001, 04:25 AM   #12
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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.
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Old 08-15-2001, 08:15 AM   #13
JP Sauve
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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?
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Old 08-15-2001, 09:26 AM   #14
prize-o-matic
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Default this really can't be illegal

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.
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Old 08-15-2001, 10:40 AM   #15
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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.
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