I haven't had much time to update this blog during the last few days because I was working on a radio feature about Platial.com. Platial offers geotagging and locative story telling - it's a great site, check it out if you haven't done so yet. One specific part of their Terms of Use is rather disturbing tho:

"Platial permits you to display on your website, or create a hyperlink on your website to, individual Places on the Site so long as such use is for noncommercial and/or news reporting purposes only (e.g., for use in personal blogs or personal online media). If the total number of Places displayed or linked to on your website exceeds one thousand (1000) Places, your use will be presumed to be in violation of these Terms of Use, absent express permission granted by Platial to do so."

I always assumed the age of linking policies was over and people had accepted the fact that you cannot and should not assume any control about inbound links. Platial seems to think otherwise. The site even goes so far as to tell people what they can and cannot write about Platial when they set a link to their site:

" You may also create a hyperlink to the home page of the Site so long as the link does not portray Platial, its employees, or its affiliates in a false, misleading, derogatory, or otherwise offensive matter."

Of course this is just plain stupid. But how does a otherwise very clever Web2.0 company come up with such pre-web nonsense? I have a feeling that it's something that crept out of a different area - the APIs that are an essential part of the Web2.0 way of doing business.

Many websites limit the access to their APIs to a certain number of calls or to not for profit Mashups. Businesswise this does make sense. You don't want someone to use your server and data to build a commercially oriented ripoff of your site. Many Web2.0 companies also hope to eventually sell some of their web services to other companies.

The downside of this urge to limit access seems to be a new protectionism. You can only access my ressources as long as you don't want to make money off of it - which, consequential, is also applied to accessing a web server. Of course it doesn't make sense, especially not in the case of inbound links. You should be happy if someone gives you thousand links, because these are a thousand possibilities to get new users and a thousand chances to display ads - or whatever your business model is based on.

It's time for Web2.0 companies to come up with some set of open source-like licensing rules for their APIs. We need open platforms, not gated communities - because once you start building walls around one property, you evidently start to get overprotective about other things as well.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,