Pan Am Games website no longer requires written permission to hyperlink to it

TORONTO – The Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games have been making headlines across the country, as Team Canada continues to impress in the medal standings. But online, the Games have been getting attention for the organization’s website terms of use.

Last week, Metro reported that the website’s terms of use stated that no one was allowed to link to the official website without gaining written permission to do so.

“Links to this Site are not permitted except with the written consent of TO2015™. If you wish to link to the Site, you must submit a written request to TO2015™ to do so,” read the terms.

The seemingly strict legal agreement drew some criticism from both legal experts and media outlets, including UK-based publication The Register.

“Under the website’s terms of use, amid piles of incomprehensible legalese seemingly designed to hide from the fact that social media exists, it is decreed that no one is allowed to use one of those hyperlink thingies to connect to the website,” read The Register’s report.

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The publication also sent the Pan Am Games organizers a polite email asking permission to link to the site.

“It is only fair that we warn you the article is likely to be critical of yourselves and contain a good degree of mockery. We should also note that we will link to your site regardless of your response. But all the same, it’s nice to have permission.”

However, the terms have since been changed to remove that very detail.

The terms of use now read, “The use of or embedding of content from this Site is not permitted except with the written consent of TO2015™.”

Not one word about hyperlinking to the website.

Catherine Lovrics, a new media and copyright lawyer with Bereskin & Parr, told Global News that the terms were not aimed at the media – nor the average social media user – but likely to businesses that aren’t official sponsors of the Games.

“The Pan Am Games likely included this language for the sake of having the right to go after commercial uses,” Lovrics said. “This type of term is not all that uncommon.”

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Lovrics said this particular legality was probably removed from the websites terms of use thanks to the controversy surrounding it in the media – but added that the new terms, which prohibit “use of or embedding content,” could still be taken as controversial by some.

Because technically, as Lovrics pointed out, information like event results and medal counts is found on the website.

She noted while these terms are not limited to commercial uses, it’s still unlikely that the Pan Am organizers would go after social media users tweeting sections of the website.

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