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Pay $100.000 if you link to Saygent's website
43 points by mattront on June 16, 2012 | hide | past | favorite | 43 comments
Just stumbled across some TOS craziness on Saygent's website. Can't link to it directly because according to their TOS I would be liable to pay them $100.000 in damages.

Here is a workaround: - google Saygent (hope that Google got their permission) - visit their site and click on Legal at the bottom to open the TOS - check out the "HYPERLINKING TO SITE, CO-BRANDING, "FRAMING" AND REFERENCING SITE PROHIBITED" paragraph

C'mon guys, you're a SV startup, not Associated Press!!!

Check out the following condition:

"In no case shall the viewer, visitor, member, subscriber or customer have the right to go to court or have a jury trial."

Just because you say I can't, doesn't make it so.

I do like that the fact that they haven't stated that if one part of the contract is made invalid then the rest of the contract that is enforcable will remain valid.

Whoever wrote up this legalese has missed something important, but included something ridiculous. Whoops!

P.S. Oh, and I also like they have included most of an episode of Seinfeld above their legal policy. Copyright violation, anyone? The irony...

I'm Dane from Saygent. Thanks for catching this! We now have a fine calculator to help web goers better understand our fee/fine structure.


When I put "saygent" in the second field:

> $100k fine for linking to saygent.com

> $200k royalty fee for using the term 'Saygent' in anchor text

Yet it shows $350,000 total fine.

Dane & the Saygent team, props for your response :)

The fiverr part was a joke, right?

No. Fiverr is a great service but it probably shouldn't be used for important things like TOS. #IANAL

Someone should make a javascript plugin to remove any results for sites with such terms from the search results Google and DuckDuckGo provide. That way we can be safe from finding these sites and mistakingly linking to one of them :-)

funny. I just made a submission doing exactly what you did :) http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4120492

I read the title as $100.00 because it had a decimal and I'm American.

Looking at the TOS it appears to be $100,000.00 which is quite a bit bigger than I thought from the headline.

Yay, you're American. Most of the world isn't.

You know, it's not just Americans who use dots for decimal points. New Zealand, Australia, Canada, India, and a whole lot of other countries use that format too.

Us Canadians use commas too.

It seems to be some cookie cutter legal template: https://www.google.nl/search?q=%22Unless%20expressly%20autho...

Even more fun: https://www.google.com/?q=link:www.saygent.com#hl=en&out...

(It seems to have gotten harder to link to Google results pages. I tried to cut it down but kept getting a link to the main search page with my query filled in.)

I ran into that problem a few weeks ago. After a fair amount of tinkering, I found that this:

Works the way you want it to. You just need to add search before the `?` and you should be good.

If you view my webpage, you are required to mail me 20 BLTs and a pony, and to invoke the sun-god Ra successfully, bringing fertility to the Nile.

This is not subject to arbitration by the courts of human law.

Even assuming that this kind of TOS is valid, the damages clause is not likely to hold in court. For a clause like that to be valid, it must (1) be a reasonable estimate of the likely actual damages for violating the contract, and (2) actual damages must be difficult to determine so that agreeing to a fixed amount in the contact will save significant effort at trial.

Neither of these applies here. It is hard to see how most links could cause anywhere near $100k in damages. Worst case would be a link that results in a DOS from heavy traffic, but the actual damages from that are not too hard to figure out--overage charges from their hosting company, plus costs of overtime for hourly employees who have to deal with the DOS, plus profits attributable to the business they normally would have gotten during the downtime.

Saygent has responded and there's a new discussion thread at http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4121750.

Maybe I haven't had my coffee yet, but why wouldn't they want people to link to their site? That's the point of the Web.

inverse psychology? I don't know...

While it could be reverse psychology to troll HNers to linking their site, it's also bad publicity among hackers, and the argument breaks Occam's razor.

I believe Hanlon's razor more closely explains this site's actions.


After some time, no one will remeber and this would have bought them the required buzz.. At the end, any publicity is good publicity.

I don't understand why any one would do put any restriction on linking to their site.

I can understand banning linking to certain sites from their site, but the other direction? It's a bit like paying for billboards and painting them and then covering them up.

Can anyone explain why any party would think it is a good idea to have policies that will reduce the possibility of news sites/random blogs/whatever linking to them and so reduce their page views?

(And thinking that they can get people to pay for the "privilege" of directing possible customers their way?)

If you get a spammy link farm to link to a website, Google will drop their rankings. So, some people do this to their competitors.

Just use bit.ly and let them deal with it.

Not that I believe for a minute that this would ever hold up in court. And how many people would go read the TOS before posting about the site if they found it interesting. I was on their site for about 30 seconds and didn't find it at all interesting (sorry).

Next addition to the TOS will prohibit standing next to their company's sign and pointing to it with your index finger.

it is legal to say


am i forced to search for the tos every time i use a website or they must get my acceptance to the terms before viewing the site?

Website terms are routinely held to be enforceable even if you never clicked the link to read them, IF:

1) There has been constructive notice that terms exist. If the only link to them is buried in a footer you never have to scroll to, then you can argue there was no such notice. That's why so many forms have the "by purchasing you agree to our terms" type text in the form; if you're filling out the form you can't argue you never saw the link.

2) The terms are reasonable.

For example: http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2010/01/browserwrapped-te...

Under which jurisdiction? In my case, certainly not. Given the fact that the TOS claim to be accepted by simply reading the TOS (as it is on the website) no sound legal system could state this to be legal. Which sadly says nothing about the US-system.

This is slightly off topic, but did anyone else have a completely different idea of what they thought this company did based on their name? Never-the-less, it's an interesting concept.

With in regardless to their TOS, I would imagine it's best to do as they wish, and give them no further press by linking to their homepage.

I'm not sure where to file this: Viral add campaign for Saygent or bored lawyers writing a TOS.

In either case, Saygent just won... oh I'll show YOU Saygent, I hope you like being on the front page of EVERYWHERE!

There is no "I agree" button, no way to indicate consent. A reasonable person linking to the site might not even notice that these terms were in place, so they can't be binding.

Looks like it was removed, because I can't find it.

They still have something in there about damages for $100k, but that pertains to "using" the content of the site.

In a similar vein, I've heard of people claiming to charge per spam email received, is there any precedent of someone successfully claiming there?

This is clearly to give them a defense against their competitors link farming them to SEO oblivion. But it seems so arrogant.

Looks like they removed the controversial paragraph from their TOS. Great to see the common sense prevail.

I guess they haven't thought of dying of oblivion if no one is allowed (freely) to link to their site.

I haven't heard of this company before. Is this exceptionally out of character for them?

i am going to add "please go hyperlink this site" to my startup's terms

GOOGLE is linking to Saygent's website...

so Saygent is going to sue google???

That's not how contracts work; just because you CAN sue someone doesn't mean you MUST. Nor does not enforcing against one party mean they can't against another.

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