Re: Meta tag legalities

Subject: Re: Meta tag legalities
From: "Eric J. Ray" <ejray -at- RAYCOMM -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 19 Mar 1998 07:47:55 -0700

At 01:11 PM 3/19/98 +1100, Sonja Draeger wrote:
>There's a discussion going round the office about the legality of putting
>competitors' names in meta tags on web sites. (We don't, by the way!) Does
>anyone know if this is legal or not? (I suspect not.) Anyone know of any
>sites I can visit to find out more?

Lawsuits have been filed (don't have the specifics at hand)
for using competitors' names in META tags. Don't know about
the resolution--presumably any ruling is pending appeal.

However, another potential problem would be how search
services address it. All search services (AltaVista, Excite,
Lycos, Yahoo, etc) focus on ensuring _RELEVANCE_--that is, on
making sure that a search for, say, Adobe Acrobat, actually
returns results about Adobe Acrobat. If you represent a competitor
to Acrobat and load your page and keywords with Acrobat-related
terms so your page comes up on a search for Acrobat, you're
lowering the relevance of that search. In other words,
you're intentionally trying to deceive (spoof) the search service,
and you're likely to be either warned or to have your sites
removed from the search service as soon as your competitors
complain about you.

I sure wouldn't do it.


BTW, we're doing a lot of consulting work with Digital's
AltaVista Search service (and just finished the second edition
of _The AltaVista Search Revolution_) so we have a unique
perspective on AltaVista, but we _know_ that this applies
to all of the major search services.

* Eric J. Ray, ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com,
* TECHWR-L Listowner, co-author _Mastering HTML 4.0_
* _HTML 4 for Dummies Quick Reference_, and others.
* RayComm, Inc., currently accepting contract inquiries.

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