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Pop-up blockers are as bad as autolink if you think about it

     
3:07 am on Mar 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I mentioned that "Pop-up blockers are as bad as autolink if you think about it" on a prior thread that is closed now, I can't add to it. I didn't get back in time to respond to comments on this.

Several people pointed out that "a pop-up opens a new window" and therefore somehow it isn't wrong to block it (the pop-up).

I do want to point out that I personally hate pop-ups and I never ever present them as an option to my publisher customers. If they insisted, I might even "fire" them as a customer. I think they are that stupid and make users mad.

Back to my point, if the publisher wants a pop-up then it is an unauthorized infringing derivative work to block it. If blocked, the page is derived from the publisher's work. Individuals can do anything they want to with published copyrighted works as long as it is for their own personal use. Individuals and corporations do not have the right to distribute a "tool" that will modify a work and present virtually 100% of the work to the user of the tool. This is to the benefit of the tool writer without prior authorization of the publishers of the works being viewed.

Pop-up detectors are ok. These would present a blank page that says, "this page contains a pop-up - do you want to view?" If the answer is yes, the user gets the page, pop-up and all. If they say no, then they don't see the page and probably go back to the referrer. BTW, I personally would always answer no to this question and look elsewhere.

If search engines provided an option to filter pages that contain pop-ups out of the results that would be ok too.

I hate pop-ups as much as anyone but if some stupid publisher wants them then no one has the right to distribute a tool that will block the pop-ups to their benefit. Again, I'm talking about tools written for others to use here, not some program someone writes for themselves only.

And the argument that no one is making money from pop up blockers doesn't hold water even if it were true. Those that supply pop up blockers benefit from providing them or else they wouldn't do it.

People are welome to respond to this post in any way they want but it will take about 5 years for this and the autolink issue to wind its way through the courts. Only then can someone "prove" that I was wrong because I'm taking about the law, not how it "should" be in someones respected opinion.

8:30 am on Mar 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Pop-up detectors are ok. These would present a blank page that says, "this page contains a pop-up - do you want to view?" If the answer is yes, the user gets the page, pop-up and all. If they say no, then they don't see the page and probably go back to the referrer. BTW, I personally would always answer no to this question and look elsewhere.

You would cut off you nose just to spite your face? That is ludicrously bigoted. Do you refuse to watch commercial television because of the adverts? Listen to commercial radio because of the adverts? Never go to the cinema, because of the adverts? Refuse to warch videos/DVDs because of the adverts?

You should be better advised to consider if a site provides what you want, rather than ignore it just because it has a pop-up advert.

Matt

8:48 am on Mar 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Pop-up detectors are ok. These would present a blank page that says, "this page contains a pop-up - do you want to view?" If the answer is yes, the user gets the page, pop-up and all. If they say no, then they don't see the page and probably go back to the referrer.

I've given the authority to make that decision to my user agent -- which is precisely the sort of reason why it's called a user agent and is expected to be intelligent.

It does it automatically and every time for me. Makes me happy.

You seem to think that publishers think they are publishing direct to an end user. They are not. Never have been on the web.

They are talking to my user agent -- think of it like a butler or servant who knows my wishes. If I had a butler, I'd get them to discard 80% of the newspaper and its various blowins and flyers before presenting it to me.

I'm not rich enough to have human servants, but I'm lucky I can do so on the web, and will continue to do so.

And my servants work for me, and not anyone else. Attempts to bully them to do what publishers want should be illegal.

2:03 pm on Mar 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I've given the authority to make that decision to my user agent

And doing that is not illegal. Providing the user agert that allows you to is.

[edited by: communitynews at 2:51 pm (utc) on Mar. 11, 2005]

2:50 pm on Mar 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

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That is ludicrously bigoted.

Didn't expect that one!

define: bigoted

blindly and obstinately attached to some creed or opinion and intolerant toward others;

If "others" are publishers that use pop-ups and the creed is negativity toward pop-ups, well, I guess I would be bigoted except for the fact I didn't "blindly" decide to hate pop-ups and I would consider using them if they were never or almost never abused by advertisers (see more about this further down). I've seen plenty and I AM obstinate about not wanting to see them.

You should be better advised to consider if a site provides what you want, rather than ignore it just because it has a pop-up advert.

That is your opinion and I respect it. My opinion, is that although pop-ups do have reasonable uses for advertising, it has been so abused, I've decided that it is better to ignore those that use them all together. Avoiding pop-ups that generate other pop-ups and avoiding sneeky pop-unders require I use a pop-up blocker, so I have to avoid even "good" pop-ups. Yes, I do use a pop-up blocker but I've also said or at least implied that the use of a blocker is legal, it's distributing a blocker that is not.

Do you refuse to watch commercial television because of the adverts?

No, because most commercials are a reasonable price to pay, no so with pop-ups, in my opinion. The "bad pop-up guys" have spoiled it for everyone. That might happen on TV if some stations allowed random hour long commercials or something like that.

BTW, as a user I think the new TIVO I got should figure out how to skip commercials all together, however, that would be as illegal as pop-up blockers and Autolink. The fact I can zip though comercials will probably be allowed because the fast forward feature has a redeeming use, you can fast forward through the story too. This is the reason VCRs are ok as found in the BetaMax case. A VCR can facilitate illegal copies but it also can be used for "fair use" copies like for personal use in viewing at a later time.

Pop-up blockers and Autolink have no redeeming use.

3:45 pm on Mar 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

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communitynews, your original post stated that

"Back to my point, if the publisher wants a pop-up then it is an unauthorized infringing derivative work to block it. If blocked, the page is derived from the publisher's work."

What you're suggesting is that different content on two separate Windows would be considered as one.

Interpreting the Internet that way, links between content pages, even between different websites, would indicate to the user that they are of the same content entity.

In a nutshell, as interesting as your suggestion is, I just don't see the pop-up and the original page as the same original work, so blocking a pop-up does not modify the original work, something AutoLink does.

5:47 pm on Mar 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

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What you're suggesting is that different content on two separate Windows would be considered as one.

This is true, I am suggesting that.

Some artists put requirements in their licenses that can be considered as stupid to others.

For example: If a painter painted a picture that was really two pictures. He might require that they be displayed together. Copyright law allows him to do that.

In fact, I believe I have read that courts have ruled that artists can define the specific frame that the picture must appear in.

Regardless if a viewer of the painting doesn't want to see both pictures together, the artist can require it under law. If the artist wants to define detailed specifications about the frame, the distance between the paintings (plus or minus a tenth of an inch if he wants), an offset or even angles, the law requires that they be respected.

Think of this, some deranged perfectionist but genius artist makes a decision to create a work. If the law didn't protect his right to be "perfectionist" in his work, he may choose not to create it because of that.

The Copyright Law of the US may seem stupid at times but it does grant valuable benefits to authors and artists to encourage the creation of the work. In some cases, this is to the detriment of the users of that work. A balance is required between the freedom of users to use work and the right of authors to control it.

In the Autolink and Blocker cases, there are two sides. The first thing we need to agree on is how the law should be applied in these cases. Then either side has the right to work to change it (the law that is).

6:00 pm on Mar 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Pop-ups annoy people - the people have voted - NO POPUPS.

It's greedy advertisers that annoyed the hell out of surfers with popups that ruined it for everyone. I used to increase my sales by periodically popping up a COUPON or SALE, but NOOOOOOO, you can't popup anything now because of the jerks with the popup ads that ruined the net.

Put ads on your site like normal people and move on.

6:17 pm on Mar 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Pop-ups annoy people - the people have voted - NO POPUPS.

Absolutly!

The very success of pop-up blockers attests to that.

However, the legality of pop-up blockers is questionable. Keep in mind here, it is really the recent Autolink thing that has brought this to my mind.

If, a major search engine were to make a statement like, "we have decided that we will not modify publishers' content", that would have to extend to toolbars they sometimes provide.

If one search engine/toolbar provider was looking to draw a distinction between themselves and their competition they could make that statement, change their blockers to detectors and allow users to filter out sites with pop-ups from their search results. They'd win over publishers without hurting themselves with users too much. The competitor may be able to continue to make inroads with users with the other approach but with less support from publishers and the courts eventually ruling against them, I wonder if it would be a good move to stick with a "pro user only" approach.

6:29 pm on Mar 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Pop-up blockers don't remove content, they simply fail to display things. If I visit your site with my favorite browser Dillo [dillo.org], and if your site usually shows a pop-up, I won't get to see it because Dillo simply doesn't support Javascript. Your page is not dependent on Javascript so I get to see that.

Pop-up blockers simply disable certain Javascript functions, and are therefore not really any different to Dillo. If I visit your site with Lynx (a text-mode browser), not only I won't get a pop-up but I won't get any images either. However, your server has accepted the connection and has sent me everything I can display: the HTML.

If you want to offer your content only to users who have Javascript enabled and pop-ups allowed, you can do so - but as it is, you're not making that restriction because your server has accepted to send me the page when I request it despite my browsers' limitations.

Auto-link is completely different, because it doesn't disable or subtract, it adds and hijacks the visitor.

7:09 pm on Mar 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Pop-up blockers don't remove content, they simply fail to display things

What is the difference between "remove content" and "fail to display"?

7:29 pm on Mar 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

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The very success of pop-up blockers attests to that.

Being banned by every user on the net isn't success, it's a huge failure due to abuse.

However, the legality of pop-up blockers is questionable.

Total nonsense.

Following your logic Anti-Spam, Anti-Virus, Anti-Spybot and Anti-Adware would also be illegal.

You can't force people to support a specific technology, if people don't want POP-UPS on their computer you can't force them to do this. If you want to not provide service to people using pop-up blockers, write some code to detect if the pop-up was created and if it fails kill your window.

Of course nobody will ever see your content again.

Put your ads directly on your page and get over it, pop-ups are dead.

10:34 pm on Mar 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Following your logic Anti-Spam, Anti-Virus, Anti-Spybot and Anti-Adware would also be illegal.

Anti-Spam - a detector and ok because it completely blocks and doesn't present a derived work.

Anti-Virus - same thing

Anti-Spybot - same

10:38 pm on Mar 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

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> The very success of pop-up blockers attests to that.

Being banned by every user on the net isn't success, it's a huge failure due to abuse.

Not sure what you're saying here. Are you saying that toolbars are not a success or that pop-ups aren't or something else?

11:15 pm on Mar 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

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You can't force people to support a specific technology, if people don't want POP-UPS on their computer you can't force them to do this. If you want to not provide service to people using pop-up blockers, write some code to detect if the pop-up was created and if it fails kill your window.

It is 100% true that you can't force people to use specific technology with any law I know of but the copyright law can be used to stop people from distributing technology that infringes on publisher's work.

It's the law, not me.

Put your ads directly on your page and get over it, pop-ups are dead.

Please note that I've said, "I personally hate pop-ups and I never ever present them as an option to my publisher customers."

My point is not that pop-ups are good, in fact I believe they are quite stupid. My point is that pop-up blockers are probably illegal. And even more import Autolink is probably illegal!

11:21 pm on Mar 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

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write some code to detect if the pop-up was created and if it fails kill your window.

I don't think an technology arms war is needed when the provider of the tool is breaking the law.

The point of this thread has more really to do with Autolink. Publishers shouldn't use pop-ups so it is not really a big issue. Autolink on the other hand steals money from publishers (or can steal money someday).

I point out of the scope of the whole problem by talking about pop-up blockers.

1:19 am on Mar 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Pop-up blockers don't steal money.

Go sue microsoft and netscape, blocking built right into the browser.

Come back and talk after the bankruptcy hearings.

Ta.

4:38 am on Mar 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Pop-up blockers don't steal money.

Oh but they do and the numbers are quite large and very easy to prove.

Go sue microsoft and netscape, blocking built right into the browser.

Neither I nor my customer's have any losses as we don't use pop-ups, so we don't have a cause of action.

In any case, it will take a large company to win a case like this and most large companies wouldn't use pop-ups anyway.

The real question is going to be Autolink. Companies like the NY Times have the resources and are being damaged but I don't know if they are willing to stand up to Google. I hope someone will.

4:48 am on Mar 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I see a key difference here

popup blockers don't block requested popups, they only block unsolicited popups. If a site wants advertising put it on your site, no need for spawning unsolicited windows that I did not request. I asked to see your site, ads and all, I absolutely understand the need for site owners to make money.

Autolink on the other hand, is not requested and has nothing to do with the site. When I go to a site, I want to understand what that site has to say, I don't need someone else interpreting it for me.

Just as when I go to G, I am asking for their interpretation.

5:16 am on Mar 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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The real question is going to be Autolink

Is this something associated with that stupid google toolbar?

I never install those things, they are an invasion of privacy.

5:42 am on Mar 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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they only block unsolicited popups

But they are solicited. When a user requests the page, the page contains the code to pop up.

It may be that the user didn't WANT the pop-up just as they may not have WANTED some other content on the page but they requested the page so it was solicited.

6:13 am on Mar 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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But they are solicited. When a user requests the page, the page contains the code to pop up.

With that logic people expected adware installed with Kszaa, that wasn't solicited either.

We click a SINGLE LINK that implies a SINGLE PAGE.

Nobody expects a stinking pop-up to annoy them, it's unsolicited.

Sounds like a bunch of sour grapes lost over rapidly declining pop-up revenue to me.

6:56 am on Mar 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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No. Popups don't modify YOUR page and insert ads that you might not want.
9:16 am on Mar 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Let's look at a HTTP request at a slightly lower level. When I download a web page:
1) I type a URL into a web browser [IE, Firefox, Lynx... or Telnet if I'm bored]
2) It will then open a socket to a web server
3) The web server will send back a stream of bytes [which is probably the HTML source code]
4) The browser takes those bytes, and displays it on the screen

Here's the kicker. The thing that your web server sent back is THE HTML SOURCE FILE. Every web browser, indeed every different version of each web browser, will display the source code in a different way. As such, no content author in the history of the Internet has ever had the expectation that their content appears in the same way everywhere.

I will make the bold claim that (at best) "you have the copyright on the bytes leaving the web server". But once they arrive at the browser, the user can do what he/she sees fit with them for personal use.

Some examples:
1) All browsers have a feature "turn off images" [in IE: Tools > Internet Options > Advanced TAB > Multimedia SECTION > Show Images CHECKBOX]. This causes them to simply not download images! This option has existed forever, mainly since early browsers didn't even support images. It's been ~10 years. No one has ever sued for this. I put this forwards as a case where the client can display content differently.

2) Consider a TV set. The cable company sends out a signal. And it eventually hits my TV box. Suppose my TV is an old Black and White model. Can I be sued for not displaying it in the colors that it was broadcasted in? What if I decide to adjust the tint to make my TV extra green. As that a fair derivative? Can I drape a cloth over my TV to cover the top half of the picture. Is that legal?

3A) Consider the case of accessibility. Suppose that I am nearly blind, and I want the browser to make the font size bigger. This involves changing the appearance of the page. Is that legal? I would say "YES!". In fact, the government requires it with ADA. Suppose I am Red-Green color blind. And I want a program to turn all red-green into color with higher contrast. [adding styles to the webpage]. That is also legal.

3B) Screen readers. If I am completely blind, I can buy a program which will read my web pages to me. In effect, this creates a "derivative (audio) work". Again, the US government says that it is legal, and indeed requires that all government sites be compatible with this.

In short, there is plenty of precedence, particularly in disability law, where users are allowed to create derivative versions of content for their personal use.

And since screen reader / disability related software is legal, I present this as a situation where a corporation is legally able to write software that created derivative versions of pages.

12:58 pm on Mar 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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But once they arrive at the browser, the user can do what he/she sees fit with them for personal use.

Looks like, with these kind of arguments, Google will get away with the AutoLink feature in the long run. Hope this feature doesn't get forced down our throat on the basis of similar arguments. :(

1:21 pm on Mar 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I just don't understand this thread at all.
Its previous incarnation was much the same.
Virtually NObody but Communitynews thinks popup blockers are unfair or illegal.
I cannot imagine a court in the civilized world that would rule otherwise.
(There may be exceptions lurking in the 3rd world of course.)
How about TV sets that allow you to block commercials?
They were never challenged in court that I know of.

About the only place I see popups much any more is on porn sites,
the amateurish ones especially.

Somebody with a site like THAT might regard blockers unfair, yes.
For the rest of us, its just about unanimous. I want to be
the fly on the wall when some fool drags this into court. - Larry

4:05 pm on Mar 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I think it is important for people to understand a few things about me and my motivation here:

1. I hate pop-up ads and understand they make most people angry.

2. I hate the new Google Toolbar Autolink - most people don't know about the feature yet. I think publishers will hate it and users will love it.

3. I am not really interested in either the arguments about the usefulness or desirability of pop-up ads or autolink.

4. I am only interested in arguments about US copyright law with regard to autolink and by extension pop-up blockers.

5. I've extended my thinking from autolink (which is really my personal sole concern at this point) to pop-up blockers because I believe the same law covers them.

I'll try to answer all the issues being raised here but if anyone can help answer others, please chime in.

With that logic people expected adware installed with Kszaa, that wasn't solicited either.

The definition of the word "solicited" is "requested". The fact that most users don't read the full description of what they are getting when they download programs like Kazza and don't know it contains adware doesn't mean they didn't request the download of the adware.

We click a SINGLE LINK that implies a SINGLE PAGE.

It may imply a single page to some but it doesn't imply that to others. The fact that the protocol supports it implies that those that know the protocol know more than one window can be opened by a single click. Should the protocol be changed by those that control it (the definition of it)?

Sounds like a bunch of sour grapes lost over rapidly declining pop-up revenue to me.

If you read all of my posts you'd see I mentioned several times how we don't like pop-ups. I'll further tell you that we've never served one single pop up AD. This is the kind of thing others that want to help me out on this post could point out. I need the help, I don't claim to be a lawyer and I know I'm making points about something that is pretty much universally despised. I do believe this angle is a productive one to use for an analysis of Autolink, which is the prime target.

PS: we have spent alot of time supporting users of our software figure out how to override pop-up blockers because we use pop-ups not for ads but for an editor we supply. I'm not too happy that those that have benefited from providing pop-up blockers have cost me money in this way.

No. Popups don't modify YOUR page and insert ads that you might not want.

I'm not sure what this is supporting.

I will make the bold claim that (at best) "you have the copyright on the bytes leaving the web server". But once they arrive at the browser, the user can do what he/she sees fit with them for personal use.

I agree with this, although copyrights are more than "(at best)", it is clear. I also, agree that the user can use it as they see fit for personal use but it is the creation and distribution of "tools" that change the content that is illegal.

"turn off images"

This has the redeeming usage of allowing pages to be loaded in a reasonable time on a slow speed line.

old Black and White

To be honest, I have no idea about how the law handles this but I suspect that the improvements in technology have to be handled. Also, in this case, it isn't that the B/W TV is preventing the display of color, it CAN'T display color.

font size bigger

Red-Green color blind

derivative (audio) work

I suspect this can be allowed under "the redeeming usage" or something - not sure. I do agree that it should be allowed but not sure what in the law specifically allows it. It may be the ADA itself.

Looks like, with these kinds of arguments, Google will get away with the autolink feature in the long run. Hope this feature doesn't get forced down our throat on the basis of similar arguments. :(

I agree Imaster, that is why we need to understand how the law protects publishers. Please continue to support me in this thread, I need it.

About the only place I see popups much any more is on porn sites,
the amateurish ones especially.

This is the reason that pop-up blockers aren't needed anymore, my description of a pop-up detector, as I call it, earlier in the thread would work for most people to address their desire not to look at websites that use pop-ups. The idea of filtering sites with pop-ups out of search results (at the option of the user) would also be ok with most users because they simply don't want to see sites with pop-ups. For me the very fact a site uses pop-up (ads) indicates I don't want to see what they have, no matter what it is.

Somebody with a site like THAT might regard blockers unfair, yes.
For the rest of us, its just about unanimous. I want to be
the fly on the wall when some fool drags this into court. - Larry

I agree with this and pop-up blockers will probably not be directly brought into court but a ruling on autolink will apply to pop-up blockers.

5:23 pm on Mar 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I agree with this and pop-up blockers will probably not be directly brought into court but a ruling on autolink will apply to pop-up blockers.

Has anyone actually read what AutoLink does?

It surely won't impact my site, will it impact yours?

Considering the toolbar is optional, not all customers use it, it's not forced on anyone, it's a free market, and other companies supply toolbars too, then this is all just an excercise in debate to no end.

5:34 pm on Mar 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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About the only place I see popups much any more is on porn sites

Most news sites I visit have them.

5:35 pm on Mar 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Has anyone actually read what AutoLink does?

It modifies my content.

This 38 message thread spans 2 pages: 38
 

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