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Utah Trying To Restrict Keyword Advertising ... Again 257

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the aren't-they-all-porn-junkies-in-utah dept.
Eric Goldman writes "The Utah legislature has tried to restrict keyword advertising twice before, with disastrous results. In 2004, Utah tried to ban keyword advertising in adware; that law was declared unconstitutional. In 2007, Utah tried to regulate competitive keyword advertising; after a firestorm of protests, Utah repealed the law in 2008. Despite this track record, Utah is trying to regulate keyword advertising a third time. HB 450 would allow trademark owners to block competitors from displaying certain types of keyword ads. In practice, this law is just another attempt by the Utah legislature to enact a law that doesn't help consumers at all but does help trademark owners suppress their online competition."
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Utah Trying To Restrict Keyword Advertising ... Again

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 05, 2009 @12:35PM (#27078391)

    Please remove the "Mormons" tag. Not all Mormons think that way. San Francisco has liberal Mormons, Texas has conservative Mormons, and there are libertarians dispersed throughout.

    • by qoncept (599709) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @12:42PM (#27078523) Homepage
      +1. It's like having a story about water melons and adding a "black people" tag.
      • by stoolpigeon (454276) * <bittercode@gmail> on Thursday March 05, 2009 @12:48PM (#27078623) Homepage Journal

        It would have dropped off on its own - now you all have made sure anyone who comes along the thread later will know it was there. Sometimes it is worth just chilling out and seeing where things go.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by RobotRunAmok (595286)

          It would have dropped off on its own - now you all have made sure anyone who comes along the thread later will know it was there. Sometimes it is worth just chilling out and seeing where things go.

          Maybe. But most times it's worth taking a stand and pointing out bigotry and hypocrisy in the editorial slant of holier-than-thou hipster tech blogs right when you find it.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Mister Whirly (964219)
            Yeah, that would be a full time job around here. With a few assistants. Working 28 hour days.
          • by stoolpigeon (454276) * <bittercode@gmail> on Thursday March 05, 2009 @01:30PM (#27079363) Homepage Journal

            Those tags are user generated. Do you think it is also worthwhile to reply to every comment troll?

          • What is bigoted about adding a "mormon" tag when over 80% of the Utah state legislature are members of the LDS church?

          • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 05, 2009 @02:55PM (#27080663)

            Except that Mormonism is the Scientology of early America. Anyone here who rallies against the COS when they do...what they do, but gives slack to the LDS, has been deluded by the idea that "real" religions are sacrosanct and shouldn't be attacked for any reason.

            Bashing a religion is not bigotry, because your choice of religion is your own. Most monotheists believe that in order to have fulfillment as a sentient being, you need to be personally adored by the omnipotent, eternal creator of existence itself. To me that seems slightly self-centered. Christians worship and purport to love a god that demanded that his own son be brutally tortured and executed if he didn't want to see his favorite race of created beings done the same way. Mormonism and Scientology are even worse because they haven't been around long enough to weed out the people at the top who know that it's all lies but continue to profit from it anyway. Pointing out the flaws in that sort of thinking, or even making blanket statements about how stupid those religions are, is not bigotry, it's pointing out that a set of ideas is stupid. Not only completely different, but absolutely reasonable.

            • by Devout_IPUite (1284636) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @03:27PM (#27081129)

              And yet you post as an Anonymous Coward. I think people have an obligation to stand up and say this without fear of reprisal. Because if you are only willing to say something without attaching yourself to it, you're really killing your own qualifications.

              That said, I endorse the post above.

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by Anonymous Coward

                I think people have an obligation to stand up and say this without fear of reprisal.

                Which is sadly not possible. I posted AC not really because of fear of reprisal from the organizations themselves, but because society as a whole views comments like mine as hateful and bigoted (because religions that survive do so in part by convincing people that those who attack religion are bigoted/hateful/evil/enemies/etc). It's fortunate that expression is protected, but even so I prefer not to put myself at risk of being turned down for future jobs, or whatever else might happen, because someone link

          • by geekoid (135745)

            To bad that in no way applies to the tags. That isn't an editors tag, it's the users.

            Of course, now that a stink seems to be a stink, I'm going to tag it Mormon as well~

      • by Ironchew (1069966) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @12:52PM (#27078703)

        You have experienced the horror of keyword advertising!

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          There needs to be a "+1 Priceless" tag for comments like this.
          • Visa objects to your suggestion that a word it considers to be part of one or more of it's trademarks (i.e. "Priceless") be used as a keyword or identifier tag on the internet in any manner whatsoever without prior authorization... Don't make us get our lobbyists out!
      • by Scrameustache (459504) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @01:46PM (#27079595) Homepage Journal

        +1. It's like having a story about water melons and adding a "black people" tag.

        Actually, it's like having a story about laws regarding information technology and someones persecution complex [wikipedia.org] turns the thread about their religion, the places where it is practiced, and the vrious shades it comes in.

      • It's like having a story about water melons and adding a "black people" tag.

        Back in Illinois during the 1840s, there was a group of black people who really really (and I mean really) liked watermelons. They just couldn't get along with all the other black people - ones who could pretty much take watermelons or leave them, or ones who liked them only once in a while. A state of hostilities existed with the ones who didn't like them at all, because they taste like cucumbers a bit.

        Anyway, to cut a long story

    • San Francisco has liberal EX-Mormons

      Fixed that for you. Or rather, made a cheap joke out of that for you since you are probably right.

    • by RobotRunAmok (595286) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @01:02PM (#27078897)

      Please remove the "Mormons" tag. Not all Mormons think that way. San Francisco has liberal Mormons, Texas has conservative Mormons, and there are libertarians dispersed throughout.

      Oh, c'mon, Dude!! What's wrong with you? Geez... Christian-bashing is the last socially acceptable form of bigotry left to Americans, and now you want to take that away, too?

      • by kindbud (90044)

        Christian-bashing is the last socially acceptable form of bigotry left to Americans, and now you want to take that away, too?

        Non-Mormon Christians generally don't consider Mormons to be Christians, so to most Christians, this is not Christian-bashing anymore than Islam-bashing or Jew-bashing is Christian-bashing. Oh but wait, now that's three religions that get bashed, so I guess your "last acceptable bigotry" whine is out the window, too.

      • Or at least I was told that it's no longer appropriate to refer to Catholics as Papists. :(

        • by genner (694963)

          Or at least I was told that it's no longer appropriate to refer to Catholics as Papists. :(

          Since when?

    • Please remove the "Mormons" tag. Not all Mormons think that way.

      But most Mormons do. They are a fairly conservative bunch on the whole. The story is about a conservative, Republican, Mormon dominated legislature trying to get the internet to play by corporate rules. The "mormon" tag is just as appropriate as a "republican" or "conservative" or "corporations" tag on the story.

      People can legitimately object to stereotypes and prejudices. But sometimes those stereotypes are things that are legitimately true and that need to be said, even if they do offend. Not allowing this leads to situations in which we now find ourselves [canada.com]. According to the UN, we can now no longer "defame" religions or their followers, no matter how much we disagree with their beliefs or practices.

      Forget the rough stuff. Mormons, by dogma, can't drink coffee and tea. I personally think this is a stupid prohibition. Muslims, again by dogma, can't draw pictures of Mohammad. I personally think this a really stupid prohibition. Catholics( especially in third world countries), again by dogma, can't use condoms. I personally think this is an appallingly stupid prohibition which costs lives every single day. I think the people who follow these prohibitions are being unreasonable, inconsiderate and irresponsible.

      My opinions here could land me in jail in many countries for being "bigoted" or for "stereotyping" or for "hate speech". Some people will say that I'm tarnishing the image of whole groups of people, or that not all people in those groups support these prohibitions. Tell that to the people living in Utah, or Saudi Arabia, or Italy, who have to put up with prohibitions imposed on them in the name of the silent religious majority.

      In conclusion, it is not automatically "Wrong(TM)" to stereotype a religious community. In fact, when that communities religious practices start to infringe on others liberties, it is right to stereotype, lampoon and indeed "defame" those practices, and to force that community to reflect upon itself. Religion should never be except from criticism, and especially satire.

      • I'm no fan of Mormonism, or Catholicism or Islam for that matter, all of which are backwards, right-wing religions, so I agree with most of your post.

        But I don't really see what this particular dispute over trademarks has to do with Mormonism. Whether non-owners of a trademark paying for search results under those terms as keywords is, or ought to be, a violation of trademark law has been argued over [ssrn.com] in a number of states, and I don't see particularly clear religious faultlines in that debate. If supporting

      • Yeah, but you are still wrong. If you knew anything about Mormonism, especially with respect to secular law, you would realize the the "mormon" tag is not as appropriate as you assume. There are lots of conservatives in UT, yes. And lots of Mormons to be sure. But its not like UT is an island of conservatism out here in the Intermountain West. In fact, they seem to dominate until you are within sight of the Pacific.

        Its one thing to point out the idiosyncrasies of a religion or group. Personally, I am

      • by furby076 (1461805)

        Religion should never be except from criticism, and especially satire.

        You know the pope would slap you if it wasn't for this demonic Internet anonymity.

      • But most Mormons do. They are a fairly conservative bunch on the whole. The story is about a conservative, Republican, Mormon dominated legislature trying to get the internet to play by corporate rules. The "mormon" tag is just as appropriate as a "republican" or "conservative" or "corporations" tag on the story.

        Meh. Speaking as a Mormon who's lived a good chunk of his life in Utah, I'd say that while you're correct, any of the tags you mention are problematic. The source of this kind of mistake isn't reall

    • by furby076 (1461805)
      Wait you mean Viagra spammers won't be allowed to embed keywords such as Pepsi, Weight Loss, Education? Oh noes....
  • by gravos (912628) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @12:36PM (#27078401) Homepage
    Well, it's one thing if a car dealership who is not Toyota starts buying "Toyota" as a keyword. Arguably this is similar to buying Toyota.com and could be misleading to customers. It's quite another thing if you run a small grocery store called "Toyota" that delivers online in your neighborhood and you start buying Toyota keywords and they try to block you for trademark infringement.

    Businesses should be able to protect their trademarks but the process should be fair. Little guys who don't compete in the same market should not get squashed.
    • by the darn (624240) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @01:04PM (#27078931) Homepage
      Nonsense; more than one advertiser can buy "Toyota" as a keyword, while there is only one Toyota.com. There's nothing wrong with presenting alternatives when someone is looking for something; search is not an exact science anyhow, and many results end up being something other than what you're looking for. A Chevy dealer could buy the keyword and run an ad promoting the Malibu as an alternative to the Camry or such.
      • To further your point, it is quite common for car dealerships to sell used cars that they receive in trade for their new cars. These used cars are often not the same brand as the dealership's "primary" brand. Hence would be neither odd nor wrong for "John Smith Ford" to want use the "Toyota" key word in the sales of all of their used Toyotas.

    • by ccguy (1116865)

      Well, it's one thing if a car dealership who is not Toyota starts buying "Toyota" as a keyword.

      Would you say it would be fair if some called Toyota decided to buy that word for their business?

      I'm curious about the general opinion here, as they don't let me buy "Torrent" (NOT bittorrent, just Torrent) as someone (google didn't disclose who) claims to have that trademark. Torrent is my wife's last name.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dcollins (135727)

      Well, it's one thing if a car dealership who is not Toyota starts buying "Toyota" as a keyword. Arguably this is similar to buying Toyota.com and could be misleading to customers.

      Totally disagree. If someone gets a consumer reports article that says "Better than a Toyota!", they should be able to promote that information with a keyword ad (among a host of other examples). As long as you're not tricking buyers into thinking some product is a Toyota when it's not, it should be fair game and free speech.

    • by geobeck (924637)

      Businesses should be able to protect their trademarks but the process should be fair. Little guys who don't compete in the same market should not get squashed.

      Rather than Toyota, the best example to illustrate this principle should be Nissan [nissan.com]. The little guy is still holding on, but it's a tough fight.

  • by NotQuiteReal (608241) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @12:37PM (#27078437) Journal
    In tiny print, at the bottom of each page: "Please do not use this site where prohibited."
  • Restricting the use of language doesn't work.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 05, 2009 @12:43PM (#27078555)

    It seems Utah merely wants to prevent advertisers from getting married to too many keywords.

  • Does it have something to do with one of their favorite search terms, referenced here

    http://xkcd.com/522/ [xkcd.com]

    They want to see men kissing, but they don't want to see ads targeted to people who search for men kissing?

    • by PPH (736903)
      From TFA:

      HB 450 would allow trademark owners to block competitors from displaying certain types of keyword ads.

      I don't get it. Does someone in Utah own the trademark "Men Kissing"?

  • by tjstork (137384) <todd@bandrowsky.gmail@com> on Thursday March 05, 2009 @12:57PM (#27078805) Homepage Journal

    First off, I note that the "mormon" tag on the article. If there were a quote from a black leader, I wonder, would you tag the article as "black"?

    I would not be so quick to bury this guy in your haste to have weaker trademarks. There is an interesting question, buried in this article. It is, what does a trademark actually buy? A trademark is a sort of a definition of an invented word, administered today by the government. A search word is as also a definition of a word, administered by a private corporation and sold to the highest bidder.

    When Linux trademarks "Linux", it is to say that he has the rights to the definition of this word in some way as it pertains to his product. But, if I buy Linux on Google, then, I get the right to define the word by having my definition be placed in a preferred position.

    Thus, you almost have to view trademark as a contest between the federal first come first serve word ownership mechanism, and, a private enterprise word as an auction mechanism advanced by the likes of Google.

    There is a real dividing line between corporation and state, and the irony here is that those who would argue that trademarks should be less powerful by definition argue that words should be auctioned, rather than licensed, and conversely, those who argue for strong government trademarks ultimately argue that the government should control more the meaning of words rather than the free market.

    I would be willing to bet that leftists who casually seek to undermine business by eliminating trademarks might be well advised to rethink that position, as they should so many others. I can't imagine that they of all people would really want a world where the definitions of words are decided by the highest bidder. It runs the risk of undermining everything that they stand for, and for that reason I'd have to conclude that people rushing to digitally behead "the mormon" might well consider that the "the mormon" is doing them a favor.

    • by PitaBred (632671)
      It's nothing about eliminating trademarks. A trademark is simply for differentiation. It does NOT give you complete control over a word. It just means that if you have a trademark for "Coca-Cola", no one else can make a soft drink called "Coca-Cola" without infringing your trademark.

      You have to consider fair use. I just used "Coca-Cola" in my post. Is that infringement of their trademark? You would say no, and you would be right. Buying an ad-word triggering on Coca-Cola would ALSO fall under fair use. If
  • by IamGarageGuy 2 (687655) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @01:02PM (#27078895) Journal
    The way these items get passed is with continually trying the bill again. I have seen unpopular laws passed at the local level that were thrown out repeatedly until eventually the right opposers were either not present or just plain old tired of fighting it. I believe the term is patient gradualism. Just keep trying to get a law passed, until eventually new lawmakers are present or the opposition is not present at the time.
    • by geekoid (135745)

      However, you could make a law expliciting saying outlawing adwords is illegal.

    • by MobyDisk (75490)

      We need penalties for representatives who pass unconstitutional laws. It should probably be a criminal act. Does it make sense that the highest law of our land can be violated with no penalties? And by those who swear an oath to uphold it?

  • Utah? (Score:4, Funny)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @01:02PM (#27078903)

    This is a state where 58% of its inhabitants claim membership in a single religion, and the overwhelming majority of the legislature comes from this demographic. They're not exactly known for their progressive views on technology. Might I suggest we kindly totally and completely ignore this state? They're clearly out of touch with not just reality, but the rest of the country as well. At worst, Utah-nians just won't be able to go online, and golly gee what a shame that would be. -_- Now go ahead and mod me to hell for stating the obvious. Or can we at least re-classify this under "It's funny, laugh." ?

    • by geekoid (135745)

      No, do not ignore it becasue it has ties into every major state government as well as the federal government.

      It's is a blight on freedom, but that doesn't mean it should be ignored.

    • by oodaloop (1229816)
      Wow, we should both totally AND completely ignore them? That's a pretty extreme position. I would have just said completely ignored them.
      • Wow, we should both totally AND completely ignore them? That's a pretty extreme position. I would have just said completely ignored them.

        I was hedging my bets. Someone might be able to provide an argument against totally, if only because of it's ties to surfer culture in the 90s, and completely on its own could have one of its alternate meanings applied, which is to "make perfect". Clearly the situation has not been made perfect, so by combining both totally and completely, I would posit that the sentence is much less ambiguous than before. ^_^ In other news, it's not yet noon, so cut me some friggin' mutter, mutter slack... brraaaaiinnss...

    • They're not exactly known for their progressive views on technology

      You mean, like, when the mormons invented WordPerfect, one of the first great Word Processors, or pioneered networking with Novell, the first great networking company?

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Ashton_(executive) [wikipedia.org]

      http://www.mormonwiki.com/Ray_Noorda [mormonwiki.com]

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        You mean, like, when the mormons invented WordPerfect, one of the first great Word Processors, or pioneered networking with Novell, the first great networking company?

        Whoah. Hey, did you, like, know Robert Oppenheimer worked on the Manhattan Project and studied Hinduism? So, like, the entire religion of Hinduism can claim it invented the nuke! That's, like, totally and completely awesome! Dude!!!!!! -_- /Sarcasm.

      • You forgot to mention SCO! The people from which Unix was pirated to form Linux! Where would tech be today without great Utahnian innovators like Darl McBride and Blake Stowell?

    • Utah is one of the best run states in the country, from an egovernment and general management perspective.

      At least, that's according to the Pew Center on the States [pewcenteronthestates.org]. Compare states' report cards with that linked page.

      But yeah, the keyword legislation is stupid.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by swillden (191260)

      They're not exactly known for their progressive views on technology.

      Actually that's not true, either of the church or of the residents of Utah.

      The church is very progressive (among churches) in its adoption of technology, both mass media for delivering its message to the world, and computer technology for its daily operations.

      With regard to the state, there was a time a few years ago when Utah was second only to California in state GDP attributable to software development. I don't mean percentage of GDP, either, I mean dollars. With the demise of WordPerfect and decli

    • They're clearly out of touch with not just reality, but the rest of the country as well.

      The rest of the country where almost 80% claim membership to some other form of belief in the supernatural powers of Jesus Christ?

  • I'm usually quite the defender of the idea that the 50 states are the incubator of ideas for governing, each an experimental sandbox, the synthesis of which over time leads to good policy on a national level. However, I find it hilarious and stupid that we must endure presumptuous state governments attempting to regulate the internet, something that transcends borders. I look forward to a day when Congress of the Supreme Court sees fit to bar these petty potentates from imposing their will on the whole of t
  • Trademark (Score:4, Informative)

    by mlwmohawk (801821) on Thursday March 05, 2009 @01:13PM (#27079089)

    A trademark is a sort of a definition of an invented word, administered today by the government.

    Not exactly. The term "Windows" is trademarked, should Microsoft be the only entity to be able to purchase "windows?" of course not.

    There is a real dividing line between corporation and state, and the irony here is that those who would argue that trademarks should be less powerful by definition argue that words should be auctioned, rather than licensed, and conversely, those who argue for strong government trademarks ultimately argue that the government should control more the meaning of words rather than the free market.

    Neither of these arguments are correct.

    Trademarks are names and logos under which businesses trade. The reason why they are protected is to protect the reputation of the institution that holds them. Believe it or not, there is "fair use" of trade marks. It is perfectly legal to use someone else's trademark if you using only enough of it to identify the business.

    For instance. A car dealership named "Planet Subaru" has the trademark "Planet Subaru." As a dissatisfied customer, I can create a website named "www.planetsubarusucks.com." I can even use the trademarked name "Planet Subaru" on this site as long as there is no confusion that I am associated with them, only as much of the trademark as necessary to identify the business, and that I do not intend to trade on their mark.

    It is perfectly legitimate for a ford dealer to buy "toyota" to get business from a competitor. Trademarks are not for censorship.

    • by the_B0fh (208483)

      That's because Microsoft was wrongly given the trademark. You are not allowed to trademark common words. See Lindows lawsuit, and why Microsoft gave Lindows shitloads of money to go away after Microsoft sued Lindows.

      All documented here, your local slashdot archive.

      • by Dog-Cow (21281)

        Except that MS's trademark is on "Microsoft Windows", not just on Windows. And Lindows was clearly trying to trade on the Windows name. Only an idiot (or a rabid /. poster) would think otherwise.

  • ...that leftist nanny state liberals and right-wing fundamentalist bible-thumpers won't try and ban?
    • by The Moof (859402)

      Is there anything that leftist nanny state liberals and right-wing fundamentalist bible-thumpers won't try and ban?

      Corporate donations.

  • I think that people are panicking over nothing here. It's just another legislation that is required to [restricted] the internet function optimally. In time, we'll be able to overcome this new [restricted] and grow to embrace [restricted] [restricted] and [restricted]. Furthermore, [restricted] [restricted] so [restricted] and [restricted] [restricted] [restricted] bikini zombies.
  • The intent of the law seems to be to prevent me from being bombarded with results that are irrelevant or contrary to what I'm searching for. Note that it appears that under this law you can still do things like buy the "Ford Focus" keyword and direct it to your fordfocussucks.com page (so long as the page is actually about the Focus, and not something else). You could not, on the other hand, but "Ford Focus" and use it to direct me to a page that sells cruise vacations.

    Meh. Personally I suspect that the

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