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Injecting Ads into Websites Isn’t Just Annoying – It’s Also Piracy

So I’ve been reading all the stories this past couple days about a hotel chain (namely Marriott) selling Wifi access and then injecting ads into the websites you visit over the Wifi (here, source).  I had left the story alone because it wasn’t strictly ebook related and I couldn’t figure out what to say about it other than the same story everyone is doing.

But tonight I had an insight that I don’t think I’ve read in any of the stories so far. This isn’t just tacky behavior on the part of the hotel; it’s piracy. 

Have you actually thought about what is involved in injecting ads into someone else’s website? It’s actually fairly simple.

When you request a webpage, the injection service retrieves the page, makes a copy, and then adds its own code to the copy. The copy of the webpage (with the extra code) is then sent to the user who requested it.

After the page arrives, it then starts showing ads that the injection service sold to ad agencies. This means that the injection service and the hotel are generating revenue off of content that they do not own or license.

They’re republishing everyone else’s content with their own ads stuck in. They’re making money off of it. Please, tell me how that isn’t commercial piracy?

P.S. One source has reported that this type of ad injection is not Marriott corporate policy. I sure hope so, but this service is still based on piracy.

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Mark April 9, 2012 um 12:25 am

Sure sounds like it. Piracy and copyright infringement against a whole bunch of sites, a lot of them heavy hitters, no doubt.

Nate Hoffelder April 9, 2012 um 6:55 am

I’m surprised no one commented on it.

Chad April 9, 2012 um 9:14 am

I think you are right on this Nate. If they are creating a copy, then injecting their code into the copy, that could be argued as piracy. Depending on their methods of injection and delivery, it’s kind of a legal grey area, but I’m certain there is precedent case law on elements of this.

Certainly, the hotel has the right to serve up ads in exchange for accessing their wifi. But that’s not necessarily free license on the method of that delivery.

Jim April 2, 2013 um 6:32 pm

Not only is the injector making money selling ads "on" whatever websites the user is browsing, but if I’m understanding correctly where the injection service is actually _placing_ its ads on each page, it is actually displacing the ads which were originally intended to be there. If the space for an ad on a given web page were sold at auction, for a given user viewing the page at a given time, depending on a variety of criteria there could actually be some high-value dollars behind the placing of the ad which _should_ have been presented to the user.

If Marriott (or others) did at some point condone this service, they had to’ve known full well the ramifications, so of course they’d have no choice but to deny any knowledge of it.

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