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I've been in AM for several years and I've never come across this. I cloaked an affiliate link to prevent hijackers and within a week got a call from my affiliate program saying I had 'stolen copyright material' and 'illegally ripped off' their website.
They threatened to have a lawyer on my doorstep within 24 hours if I did not contact them and take my entire website down. I'm very careful never to steal any copyrighted material so I was not only confused but extremely upset. Then I talked to them and found out they were referring to my cloaked affiliate link - not my entire website. Call me naive but I really had no idea this was wrong and no other affiliate program I am involved with has EVER done something this extreme.
(Of course I pointed out to the gentleman that you don't exactly encourage affiliate loyalty by threatening to sue your affiliates.)
Has anyone ever had anything like this happen? I'd appreciate some feedback.
You should make sure that such links cannot be crawled, by banning them in the robots.txt file. That way Google will never know what's on the other side of the redirect. Thus hijacking cannot happen. There's no reason for a spider to be crawling affiliate links anyways.
IMO that's a reasonable solution but it may not make the merchant happy. If not, well the customer is always right so in that case change the links or remove them.
Imagine if every page on your site, every link to your site, was being credited to another domain. You'd go nuts too.
It may be the legal department acted outside of the affiliate program. Many times companies have poor inter-company communication. The legal department may have thought you were someone breeching copyright without realizing you are actually advertising their product. It happens alot. Legal departments tend to shoot first ask questions later. Email your AM about it and ask them why it happened and if they were aware of it.
The day before I had emailed the affiliate manager outlining what happened and I still got the letter so I'm guessing they knew all about it.
[edited by: eljefe3 at 1:20 am (utc) on Nov. 11, 2005]