Thursday, October 2, 2008

I Guess I've Arrived

Because I received my first letter from CVS Enforcement last night.

I know, it sounds like a mythical, Star Wars-esque dark force wandering the back channels of the Internet in big cyborg armor, right? But apparently, CVS Enforcement is real. It's a security company that the drugstore chain has hired to comb the Net for links they don't like.

CVS didn't like the link I posted to I Heart CVS's entire page of $3/$15 coupons. They say this site infringes on their intellectual property.

Because I know my readers strive to coupon legally and stay in the good graces of CVS, I quickly took the link down. Honestly CVS, I would have preferred a friendly heads-up to a legalistic "cease and desist" letter, but whatever.

You can still get the $3/$15 coupon directly from the e-edition of Newsday. I Heart CVS explains exactly how here.

By the way, there is considerable debate over whether it can actually be illegal to link to a Web site, no matter what is on that site. My husband, who is also this site's administrator, reported CVS to the Chilling Effects Clearinghouse, a site created by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and some top universities to "aims to help you understand the protections that the First Amendment and intellectual property laws give to your online activities." I used to write about this kind of stuff as a technology reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, so it's kind of funny to now find myself the target of a letter that has a chilling effect on free speech.

Howevermuch I may disagree with trying to use the law (and the law that applies to online copyright protection is an overly broad monstrosity) to force people to take down links, I'm not actually fighting their request, because I believe in the spirit of the request -- that is, I don't want to encourage anyone to use versions of coupons that CVS doesn't want them to have. But for the record, I don't want them telling me what to link to, either.