[LINK] Its my Browser and I'll auto click if I want to (from EFF)
tomk at unwired.com.au
Fri Oct 9 11:10:25 AEDT 2009
Excellent summary by EFF staffer Fred von Lohmann
<http://www.eff.org/about/staff/fred-von-lohmann> about advertisers -v-
Firefox advert remover plug-ins war that is shaping up in the US.
Free file hosting provider MediaFire seems to think that, when you
follow a link to download a file from its service, it has the right to
control your browser. This is yet another example of a web site owner
forgetting that it's your computer, and it's none of their business how
you choose to experience their web pages.
This latest spat involves SkipScreen, a Firefox plug-in that automates
the process of downloading from free hosting sites like RapidShare,
zShare, MegaUpload, and others (including, until recently, MediaFire).
Some of these ad-supported download sites try to force downloaders to
sit through a "waiting period" before revealing the actual download
link- a "feature" that these sites doubtless tout to advertisers in
order to get premium ad rates. SkipScreen automates this
waiting-and-clicking for you. Simply put, it does nothing you couldn't
accomplish just as well by hiring a human to browse for you.
MediaFire has responded by sending a lawyer letter to Mozilla, which
hosts the SkipScreen plug-in, along with thousands of other Firefox
add-ons. EFF has taken SkipScreen's creators as clients, and has sent a
letter to Mozilla explaining why MediaFire doesn't have a leg to stand
Here's the short version: it's my browser, and I can ignore your ads if
I want to.
MediaFire's arguments to the contrary are entirely misguided. First,
they suggest that SkipScreen somehow lets users "steal bandwidth."
That's wrong on the facts: SkipScreen just automates the exact process
that the user would otherwise have to do themselves in order download a
file. No "extra downloads," no additional bandwidth for MediaFire.
Second, MediaFire argues that the use of SkipScreen violates MediaFire's
"acceptable use policy." That's wrong on the law: users who follow a
link to a MediaFire download never click-through or otherwise agree to
any "acceptable use policy," so there's no contract here that prohibits
a user from using whatever browser she likes (including whatever
plug-ins she likes) to download a file.
Sure, MediaFire probably would prefer that we all sit, transfixed, while
they display ads for us, just like certain Hollywood executives wish we
would never leave the couch or hit FFWD when commercials run during our
favorite TV shows, and certain websites wish they could ban Firefox
ad-blockers. Fortunately, there's nothing in the law that says that by
simply visiting a website, I give up the right to control my desktop.
Mozilla Letter http://www.eff.org/files/2009_10_6_Mozilla_Ltr.pdf
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