**DISCLAIMER NOT A PRACTICE I CONDONE OR ENCOURAGE **
Lets say you had a competitor who was slowly moving up on your keyphrase. If you were to go out and buy one of those newspaper links with thousands of pages and put his link up could you theoretically push him into the sandbox? Of course you would have to buy it for a short enough time for it not work for him and the dollars you get from sales would have offset the cost.
While heading the profit of my counsel, avail yourself also of any helpful circumstances over and beyond the ordinary rules. - Sun Tzu, The Art of War
I don't believe so. The beneficial effect of the paid links might be sandboxed, but not the website itself.
In another thread someone posted that their site had suffered because of a ROS paid link listing, but later on acknowledged that the other websites that had paid for a link had not received a penalty- which pretty much refutes that particular circumstance.
Apart from a hand tweak in response to a notorious network (searchking comes to mind), I doubt there are any penalties involved with using paid links, beyond the usual tweak that prevents PR from passing.
[edited by: martinibuster at 9:42 pm (utc) on July 16, 2004]
MartiniBuster, It was I who mentioned that. As I said before, there is no way of knowing if/when a penalty may come their way (the others who also appeared on the ROS's). I think that it best to stay away from those sites. One could argue that for general traffic reasons those ROS links could be great for additional customers (if on a targeted ROS site with quality traffic), is it worth potentially losing a decent rank over? Apply the inverse of this logic and you could potentially harm a competitor this way. But as I said in the other thread, I think that any hypothetical penalty would need to be triggered by a combination of things, like having multiple ROS links, having over NN% of all inbounds with a highly competitive keyword phrase, etc...
G would never alow a situation where you could get somebody banned.
Never say never. There's a lot more gray between black and white than is apparent to the eye. Remember, there was a bug reported just a few months ago where someone could have a competitor's website deleted from Google's index. Never say never.
IF there is or will be it will not be forever. Even Florida was not forever. Yes it is possible but it will be fixed if it comes out. Trust me if it gets out that you can do this G will hear about it and check into it and fix it.