No. of Recommendations: 9
This is beginning to get interesting - Alan Gardyne devoted a significant portion of his latest newsletter to this topic:

Excerpt below:

You've heard of software, freeware, shareware and perhaps
vaporware. Now there's "scumware".

As outrage spreads over eZula's TopText and other browser plug-
ins which divert traffic from your web site, "scumware" is the
name which is being accurately applied.

Scumware DEFACES the content of your web site without your

It OVERLAYS advertisers' links on your site without your

Depending on how upset you are and how you view the ethics of
this, it either diverts, hijacks or steals traffic from your

However you describe it, the end result is:

* You lose visitors - perhaps to your competitors.

* You lose sales.

* You lose commissions.

If you haven't caught up with this topic yet, prepare to be

When I checked CNet's this week, eZula's KaZaa had
been downloaded 7.4 million times.

Many of the 7.4 million people who downloaded KaZaa - a Napster-
like file-sharing tool - apparently didn't even realize that they
were also installing TopText.

TopText, like Microsoft's widely denounced SmartTags, works
through your browser. It modifies your web page, highlighting in
yellow all the keywords which eZula has sold. Advertisers pay per
click for the keywords.

What it's doing is inserting advertisers' hyperlinks in YOUR

For example, if you have used the phrase "car loan" on a web
page, TopText could turn that phrase into a hyperlink which your
visitors click on, robbing you of potential sales or commissions.

As Danny Sullivan of says:

"As a result, potentially Coke could advertise so that any time
'cola' appeared on the Pepsi site, the word would have a
hyperlink leading back to the Coke site. Similarly, Ford could
advertise so that the word 'car' on any pages across the web -
including those at the General Motors web site - would link to

It doesn't matter whether you're the FBI, the White House or a
children's charity, advertisers' links are being added to your

That stinks. It looks remarkably similar to breach of copyright
and unfair competition.

A really nasty side of all this is that if you run a children's
site TopText or Surf+ could overlay links on it to "adult" sites.
It could be happening to YOUR site right now.

About the kindest conclusion I can come to is that it's

Jim Wilson, who created , says:

"The stealing of traffic from independent web site
publishers has become the biggest threat to the
survival of the Internet to date."

Steve Shubitz of says:

"In some cases, they alter the contents of a PG site
with adult and or gambling links which the owner of
the site would never permit. We find all of these
actions morally reprehensible."

Paul Myers of Talkbiz News - - in an
article titled "Who Owns Your Business?", says:

"There is a word for taking a valuable commodity from its
creator without their permission and without compensation.

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