Vegemite's stupid and clueless linking policy

Anaglyph sez, "I was going to do a post on my blog about Kraft's new Vegemite product and I visited their official site to find that before you can get access you're forced to agree to one of the the stupidest legal disclaimers I've ever read on the net. To whit: they expressly forbid anyone to link to them!"
You may access and display pages of the Site on a computer or a monitor, and print out for your personal use any whole page or pages of this Site. All other use, copying or reproduction of any part of this Site is prohibited (save to the extent permitted by law). Without limiting the foregoing, no part of this Site may be reproduced on any other internet site, and you are not authorised to redistribute or sell the material or reverse engineer, disassemble, or otherwise convert it to any other form that people can use. You are also prohibited from linking the Site to another website in any way whatsoever. [emphasis added]
This is like saying "You are prohibited from giving people directions to the Kraft factory." Putting a link to a URL on your site doesn't require permission of the linkee. You can say it all you want, but it doesn't make it true. Still, goes to show you that all the legendary brilliance and efficiency of the consumer packaged goods giants is vastly overrated -- what a pack of morons.

Allow me to remind you of Boing Boing's superior linking policy.

Terms of Use, Disclaimer and Copyright Notice (Thanks, Anaglyph!


  1. The “new” Vegemite is shit, anyway. It’ll fail with or without publicity.

    Kraft: Don’t fuck with my Vegemite, and stuff your stupid linking policy.

    1. I’m unclear on why anyone would want to link to a website for an industrial waste product being sold as food.

  2. Come now, all these crappy policies are perfectly and legally enforceable: all Kraft need do to can’t haz links to them is take down their own site.

    Soblem prolved!

  3. Antinous, there could be a number of reasons. They might be warning people away. They might be using the site as an illustration of All-That-Is-Good/Bad in modern website design. They might be mocking the the tradition of making corporate names by misspelling words. They might – and I’m sure the boffins of Kraft haven’t quite tumbled to this – want to give publicity to an extensively hyped new product.

    Also, Vegemite’s not industrial waste. It’s leftovers from the making of good, wholesome beer, with yummy added salt, and it puts a rose in every cheek. Every cheek, I’m telling you. I’m sorry if it’s not to your taste; it is, in fact, the food of the gods and the only food to raise a grilled cheese sandwich to gustatory perfection. You can go munch on a twinkie, or something – leave the Vegemite to those of us who appreciate it.

    Saying of which, has anyone actually eaten the new stuff? I’m disinclined to pay for cheap cream cheese with Vegemite in it, and have yet to meet anyone who’s actually bought the stuff.

  4. Maybe you’re misunderstanding their use of the word “link.” It does have other definitions.

    Did you know that you have to refrigerate New Vegemite because of the cheese content? I didn’t until I tried it and thought “what the hell is that flavour? Cheap margarine?” Then I looked into what the gunk actually was and later noticed the small “refrigerate after opening” on the label.

    New Vegemite is Mustardayonnaise set in reality.

  5. Dear Boing Boing,

    I see that you have linked to our site, which is strictly prohibited by our terms of service. We will be suing you for 1 billion dollars.


    Kraft Foods

    Legal Disclaimer: You are not allowed to read this post. If you have read this post in error, you also owe use 1 billion dollars. Thanks.

  6. Have some sympathy for poor old Kraft. They may be embarrassed about their new product and don’t want people to know about it.

  7. Perhaps this is a clever reverse-psychology marketing strategy?

    When I first saw this, I thought “How stupid! They can’t prevent people from linking to them. I’ll show them! I’ll link to their website on every page I own! Let’s see them try to stop me!!”

    And then I thought “Oh, wait…”

  8. I prefer Marmite, first because I’m from New Zealand, second because Kraft are owned by Philip Morris and I prefer my money not to go to tobacco hawkers.

    I’m not surprised by the ridiculous disclaimer. There are still so many people without any idea how the internet works.

  9. @4 Vian: …it is, in fact, the food of the gods…

    Oh! The heresy! Oh! To have such sacrilegous word slandering all that is holy! Repent from your wretched sinful ways and embrace the Holy Truth! The real food of the gods is of course, Marmite (TM) .

  10. Hmm… let’s read that again.

    It does say “You are also prohibited from linking the Site to another website in any way whatsoever”, NOT “linking TO the Site FROM another website”.

    Could this mean that they simply don’t want hackers to change the HTML of their pages to link to other sites? Or what?

    Eh, who cares.

  11. Mate. That policy is not Austrayan. It’s like saying “we will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come.” I can’t quite recall the origin of that quote at the moment.
    Anyway I gotta go and feed me roos’.

  12. The icing on the stupid cake is that their user agreement thing is BROKEN!!! I refused to agree to their terms, but I was able to click right through to the various other pages on the site anyway.

  13. If I wasn’t brushing my teeth right now, I’d go make myself a marmite grilled cheese (sounds yum . . . thanks for the idea!). Truly, I never understood the whole vegemite concept. It’s like they sucked all the good out of marmite, and left its lifeless body inside a tawdry, plastic container.

  14. I see two possabilities.

    1) It could be stupid over paid lawyer zealotry. I have seen companies lawyers and PR sides actively contradict and get into pissing matches with each other on more than one occasion. The lawyers will make some absurd legal claim on copyright, actively contradicting the PR attempts to foster interest in said product/company. I can’t recall what company it was, but the PR firm set up a competition to have user generated content, and the lawyers went after contestants for violating copyright. The PR side had to throw a hissy fit and get the CEO to bash the lawyers across the head to make them back off. This is generally a symptom of companies hiring and outside law firm that bills by the hour… nothing is too frivolous and stupid when you are paid by the hour.

    2) You might be reading it wrong. It says “linking”, but it might mean that in terms of representing your site as some how being associated with the site, not actual “linking” in the intertubes sense of the word.

    Either way, there terms of service are stupid. Company PR firms need to get their kludges out and beat the piss out the lawyers to keep their companies from looking like fools.

  15. Haha Kraft Fail marketing.

    As for the new Vegemite, it tastes the same as traditional, but milder.
    As if expressly designed to be slathered on bread like nutella, obviously in the hope that people will use more> and thus consume jars faster> and thus buy more. Probably a fair hope for the company as it is one of those products that seemingly lasts forever, both in then sense of shelflife and how often you actually need to buy a jar.

    -pertinant side note, Vegemite is meant to be eaten spread thinly, at no point should you ever attempt to consume a whole spoonfull of it, or spread it thickly like cream cheese, doing so will result in such an intense flavor that it will be extremely unpleasant.-

    new flavor is ok but I much prefer traditional spread thinly on toast with butter.

  16. I think when sites use this, it is meant to discourage hot-linking and embedding of content.

    But I’m not sure it’s possible to describe this in a legal sense.

  17. Vegemite, we are all raised on it in Australia.

    I mean even during teething we have Vegemite smeared on our rusks (teething biscuits).

    Gotta go for a snack now, mmmm Vegemite!

  18. Vegemite. Ok.I love the stuff but can live for months without it. However when I encounter it I can eat teaspoons of it. Raw.

    Some Yanq’s from Texas I was travelling with in Peru couldn’t ‘get’ Vegemite. We had various ‘chats’ and then the penny collectively dropped. They expected all their breakfast spreads to be sweet. Once we all agreed it tasted like strong beef jerky then they loved it. Very especially their 16 year old vegan daughter (no I no have idea if gelatine is in it).

    That was the last time I translated Vegemite to Yanq’s. Too precious ina foreign land to give away.

    LOL. It is made by Kraft! A Yanq mob. OK I am off have to go feed the bloody Yowies.

  19. @18 liatach: “-pertinant side note, Vegemite is meant to be eaten spread thinly, at no point should you ever attempt to consume a whole spoonfull of it, or spread it thickly like cream cheese, doing so will result in such an intense flavor that it will be extremely unpleasant.-“

    You people irk me to no end. Have you ever seen a Vegemite ad before? It is always spread thickly, and rightly so.

    Seriously, if you can’t handle the taste try jam or peanut butter.


  20. “All other use, copying or reproduction of any part of this Site is prohibited (save to the extent permitted by law). Without limiting the foregoing, no part of this Site may be reproduced on any other internet site…”

    Assuming the EULA was on their site, didn’t you just break it?

    “You are also prohibited from linking the Site to another website in any way whatsoever.”

    As someone above mentioned, this sounds more like you can’t add a link TO their site that points to another site. This would NOT prevent you from linking TO their site from ANOTHER site.

    If this isn’t a publicity stunt to get a bunch of people to visit the site and post links “out of spite”, then somebody needs a firm smack upside their head.

  21. Basically they are bulking it out with other ‘slurry’ and are unable to get it to gel. Instead they are getting a jelly-like substance similar to “Mighty Mite” (another Oz product BTW).

    Clearly the point is to maximize profit in the same way Marmite are producing ‘Limited Edition’ versions of their product and simply shrink-wrapping ordinary jars with a special wrapping. It all looks like poo anyway.

  22. #4, vian:

    it puts a rose in every cheek.

    …and it makes your urine smell of bacon.

    I have to confess to being a faithless marmite/vegemite dilettante- I keep both in my kitchen, and switch between one and the other on a whim.

    My mother uses a local fair-trade yeast extract; it’s quite revolting. But still not as nasty as the home-made version once produced by a friend of the family.

  23. I know if I was rolling out a new product I wouldn’t want anyone to know about it. It’s not as if word of mouth free marketing would in any way increase profits, and it might damage this incredibly important intellectual property stuff I keep hearing about.

  24. IANYL, but I agree with #12 – it prohibits you from hacking into their HTML and adding links from their site to others, but it doesn’t seem to prohibit inking *to* their site.

  25. So hacking into their site and posting pictures of scantily clad young women is OK, so long as the pictures are uploaded onto their servers as well? OK.

  26. Um. Hm. I live in Canada and missed this “New” vegemite thing. Like #28 Blue, can someone tell us poor forr’n folk if the “traditional” version is still on the shelves in Australia? My mother goes back there in a month and usually brings me back a care package of 1kg of Jaffas and a jar (or picnic squeeze-tube or whatever) of Vegemite.

    While I’ll happily take 2kg of Jaffas instead, I will SORELY miss my Vegemite and stuck cheese sandwiches.

  27. Putting a link to a URL on your site doesn’t require permission of the linkee.

    Actually there have been a few court cases holding that it does require permission; the legal theory at work is that the site’s owners created the domain name and page address, and so they own the copyright in the URL. Reproducing the URL is “copying” it, which violates the owner’s copyright.

    A milder version of this is extremely common in companies’ Web sites. For example, the NFL’s Web site, on its “Terms and Conditions” page, says:

    You may link to the home page of the Services without obtaining our permission provided that you do so only through a plain-text link. For any other type of link to the Services, you must obtain our express written permission.

    Can’t say I’ve ever heard of a site saying “You can’t link to us at all in any way,” but in theory they are within their rights to do so.

    I’m not saying it’s right, but that’s the law.

    (P.S. Vegemite is gross.)

  28. >>34

    But they didn’t actually create the top level domain (.com, .au) or the web server (www)… the only part they actually created is the second level name, which seems to me that it would be protected by trademark, not copyright.

    But I’m not a lawyer either.

  29. “All other use, copying or reproduction of any part of this Site is prohibited (save to the extent permitted by law)”

    isn’t linking still legal?

  30. This is the position(page 3) of the Australian Copyright Council.

    The legal implications of providing hyperlinks are not entirely settled. However, in general terms, and subject to the comments below, it’s unlikely that simply providing a link raises copyright issues under Australian law.

    However, it would currently appear difficult for a website proprietor to use legal arguments to attack deep linking unless all visitors to the website (or particular sections of it) enter an agreement not to make deep links, as a condition of access.

    On another note: NoScript for Firefox is complaining about moveabletype redirect when submitting/previewing as being a XSS attack)

  31. I don’t understand what the problem is.

    Clearly, Kraft wants their Vegemite product to fail miserably by making the website so obscure that only those who are given the URL by special permission will ever be able to find it.

    Any company that wants to shoot itself in the foot in this way is certainly welcome to. Leaves more room and more money for companies that aren’t so bogged down with overzealous lawyers and their antiquated, draconian, and overprotective IP policies.

  32. Vian: Cheap cream cheese and Vegemite nails it perfectly.

    And Marmite is for soft-cocks, and those that value their vein’s elasticity. As I said, soft cocks.

    Antinous: Pffffft. Soft cock.

  33. To add a bit more reason… you can do alot better than the new Vegemite by using your own soft-cheeses, rennet free ones (convieniently) are the best. Grilled, of course.

    If you wanna go low-brow, though, Kraft Singles that puff under a grill mix well with Vegemite.

  34. Kraft is Evil, Kraft has always been Evil. Kraft is something I have boycotted ever since it was apparent what Kraft was all about. Evil, Evil Kraft.

  35. Hmm… Doesn’t this forbid google from indexing their site? Maybe they’re asking to be on the google blacklist…

  36. I suppose it is possible they just blasted-out this nonsense to serve as a legal catch-all. That way, they can review any link to their product, decide whether it is objectionable (e.g., “hot-linking,” as someone else said), and act accordingly. Or they can choose to ignore it.

    If your site said “Their product is great! and linked to it, it is hard to imagine they would come after you.

    If your site said their product was terrible and linked to it, well, you get the idea.

  37. Nelson.C @#35

    Hirsty is my middle name. My first name is Bruce.
    My Surname is also Bruce. When my parents married my Mother refused to take my Fathers surname. The compromise was that they would hyphenate their Surnames. My Mothers maiden name is Bruce.

  38. Kraft is the All-Eater, the vile excrescence of the the Pit that leaches all light and devours the souls of men. And I don’t like competition.

  39. #36 LB: Right, they don’t own copyright in .com or http://www., but they own it in their domain name, and since you can’t type in the URL without typing in the domain, that pretty much ices it.

    That’s the legal theory under which these things have been argued, anyway. Frankly I think it’s massive abuse of copyright law, but I’m not in charge.

    (I am a lawyer, btw.)

  40. My first stop to check this out was, which is for the U.S. corporation, and they didn’t have any terms of use agreement. They also didn’t have vegemite.

  41. I see nothing wrong with their linking policy, as long as Google, Yahoo!, and all of the other search engines comply. That’s fewer bullshit sites in my search results.

  42. #50 MadMolecule

    Are you suggesting that I can’t type the string ‘vegemite’ without permission from Kraft foods?

    #51 I don’t dare add the scary .com suffix but it’s the first result you get if you google ‘Kraft Vegemite’

    I didn’t agree to their terms, which to add insult to injury appear as a crawlingly slow flash animation.

    But luckily there are other bits of the site you can visit without entering into a legal contract with Kraft.

    ‘Thinking of falling pregnant’ – guess what you should be eating.

  43. Piers W: Are you suggesting that I can’t type the string ‘vegemite’ without permission from Kraft foods?

    First of all, I want to make it very clear that I think this system is insane. I’m telling you what some courts have said in decisions relating to deep-linking. Please don’t think I agree with them.

    So: No, that is not what I’m saying. I’m saying the URL as a whole has been deemed subject to copyright, and courts have held that using a site’s URL in a link to that site is NOT “fair use.” See this article.

    There’s still not really a settled nationwide approach on this (see the Ticketmaster v. story linked in that article); one hopes that sanity will eventually prevail.

  44. Cory, does this mean you actually eat Vegemite? There’s always Marmite as an alternative. Try the Australian version. Oz gets it right.

  45. MadMolecule @37 & 58, I found the full decision text for Live Nation Motor Sports v Davis, and the issues look a bit more complicated than just asserting a copyright in URLs. I doubt the judge would have decided the same way if this was just a case about links to a textual web page. This is a case about a streaming audio broadcast, and the case the judge is drawing upon for his decision was a case about a television broadcast. Davis didn’t provide links to Live Nation Motor Sports’s website, he provided links directly to their audio stream. Judge Lindsay says nothing about a copyright for URLs in general, but instead defends the asserts the URLs are protected as a step in the broadcast process.

  46. It’s virtually certain that the URL is not covered by copyright — it’s much too short.

    Copyright is for longer works, like a poem, or a magazine article, or a novel.

    Trademark is for shorter items and it’s much more tightly circumscribed. It has to be registered, and it has to be registered as being for a specific trade purpose (e.g., I could trademark my name, but only for specific associations — Paul Drye with sports drinks, Paul Drye with automobiles. I could not copyright my name for all trades and all purposes unless I actually enumerated and registered all of them).

    In other words, unless Kraft has actually trademarked all their URLs and done so for “reviews” or some such as the associated product — which strikes me as unlikely and probably illegal — they’re blowing smoke, or perhaps even positioning themselves for SLAPPs.

  47. Actually, now that I actually go and RTFToS, I think the people joking around about linking Kraft to other sites (as opposed to you linking to them) have it inadvertently right.

    The way it’s phrased, I think the clause is trying to prevent people from putting their own sites as links into the Kraft forums. It’s in the wrong part of the ToS for that, but it *is* immediately above where it should be — the stretch about user submitted content and forums.

  48. Although I prefer vegemite to marmite, my Ozzie product of choice is the venerable musk stick. It hardly ever gets the attention and love it deserves.

  49. @#71 PAULDRYE is probably right, but nevertheless, in a legal sense it could be construed in either way. Whatever the purpose, I believe it’s not something they can ‘enforce’ in such a manner anyway.

    The purpose of the post about this on my own site was to point out the absurdity of advertising & marketing people taking control of products to wring out extra dollars. The RTFToS was merely the icing on the cake of what I assess to be a futile and stupid exercise.

  50. I believe Daniel Dennett is credited with the original version of this little parable (he was talking about tenure):

    The sea squirt is an interesting creature. It has a 2 stage lifecycle whereby it spends the first part of it’s life free-swimming looking for a rock to attach to, once it finds a good rock, it attaches itself to it and becomes a filter feeder. At this point it doesn’t need its brain anymore so it eats it. Not unlike landing a job in a corporate legal dept.

  51. Marmite? Eugh! It’s a weak, insipid, overly sweet brewing-byproduct, clearly made from the dregs of inferior beers. The cheeks of Marmite eaters are not rosy. Still, I suppose if you can’t handle the real stuff, you’d better stick to what you can handle.

    Vegemite is the Guinness of sandwich spreads (or, to put it in a more readily appreciable way, Guinness is the Vegemite of beer). Perhaps not to everyone’s taste, but noble, fine and way better than PBJ.

    J France – thanks for the info.

  52. Vegemite, it’s an Australian thing.

    Telling an Aussie they can’t do something is the best way to challenge them to prove that they can. By the amount of attention this is receiving it seems to be working so far.

    Another Australian thing, feeding American tourists vegemite and watching them screw up their faces. This is caused by the taste sensation of a product that’s not predominantly sugar.

    Larrikinism another Australian thing.

  53. That has to be up there with one of the worst redesigns for a big brand I’ve seen in a while. It amazes me how people can still produce and accept such poorly designed sites. How can such a big company not see how shockingly poor that site is?

  54. Judas! Have you all seen the new name on Australia for the new Vegemite? We had a national competition and this is what they came up with: iSnack 2.0

    I’m never eating Vegemite ever again and throwing out what I have left. What an insult to our intelligence.

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