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TOS and Remote Loading Questions and Answers

By Dudette
(February 27, 2000)

We have received many, many questions regarding remote loading and the Terms of Service (TOS) at GeoCities and other popular home page hosts. These are a few, with the best answers we've got.

Q: I heard that the GeoCities Terms of Service says that we can't have any linked images. I had a number of images that, when you clicked them, took you to another page or another site. I've changed all of these into text links, but my site now looks boring. Do I have to do that?

A: If an image is in your website directory, there's nothing wrong with making it a clickable link, and there is no prohibition against this.

I think the misunderstanding comes from the use of the term "link." Let's use the term "remote load" for calling in an image from another site, and "hyperlink" instead of "link" for the links that you click on to take you somewhere else.

Now -- yes, you may make hyperlinks with images.

Q: If you upload images to your scrapbook, is that "remote loading" and does it steal bandwidth?

A: No, that's fine. What it does is make a copy of the image and put it in your scrapbook inside the WebTV service. When you use that image in your PageBuilder page or your email sig, you are using the copy that's already in the WebTV service.

Q: Isn't the act of transloading itself "remote loading?" Can I be shut down for that?

A: Transloading only accesses the files once, when it picks them up. The remote-loading problem comes from files being accessed over and over again, costing bandwidth each time. Transloading is the way to go. If your ISP questions it, tell them that you are a WebTV user who cannot upload and download from your box, and that the transloader is just an FTP you are using to make sure that you're not remote loading.

Q: I note that you are suggesting that people use the pagebuilder to store their images for emails etc. The way I read WNI License Agreement is--you can ONLY store images to be used on your web-tv community home page. Am I wrong?

A: The WebTV License Agreement says:
License to the Space. Subject to the Terms of Service and this License, WNI grants you a personal, non-exclusive, non-transferable license to use up to three (3) megabytes of storage space on the WebTV Network (the "Space") for your personal web site. WNI reserves the right to restrict the size of your personal web site, and its file type(s), at any time and for any reason. You may not let anyone else use your Space or store any files on the WNI Network other than the content for your personal web site as authorized in this License.

However, any pictures that you want to put into your email MUST be in your WebTV community homepage, or you will not be able to get a file name to put into your email (you can't just do it out of the scrapbook). So, even though it's also in your email, it is part of the content of your personal website.

Q: GeoCities says that I can't use my site as a "front door." Do I have to take down all of the links I have to other sites?

A: No, not at all -- links back and forth between sites is the "Way of the Web."

What they don't want you to do is to create a page whose purpose is to take you to another site. For example, if your main site is on Angelfire, they don't want you to create a page that says "welcome to my site -- click here to enter" and then takes you to your Angelfire site.

A lot of time, spammers will make "front door" pages on a lot of free home services, and those are the links they will put in their spam email. If the site gets taken down -- well, they can just make some more, and their "real" host doesn't get complaints about their spamming activity because the address isn't shown on the page.

Also, some people run out of space in their GeoCities directory, so they take an additional site and link the two together into a single theme. GeoCities doesn't like that, either -- they want you to upgrade to GeoPlus (that is, pay them) if you want more space than the free sites offer.

Q: Why are you telling people to mirror their sites? They should have already backed them up -- even the GeoCities TOS tells them to. (Note: question was from a PC user outside the US)

A: WebTV users cannot upload and download with their boxes and cannot back up their sites to a hard disk. Unless they have a PC, they have to transload them to another service in order to back them up. Most of the online storage sites do not work with WebTV.

Q: What does "mirroring your site" mean, and how do I do it?

A: It meams creating a copy of your site your site on another host. You can do it by transloading all of your files, or by asking a PC user to help you. When you get to your new host, make sure to take out anything that points to the old host -- and don't forget to transload all of your graphics and audio files, not just the HTML.

Q: If people are going to link their graphics for their email from their PageBuilder sites, they're going to need a lot more space. We only have 3 MB!

A: What are you putting in your email sig? Do you realize that, if you put just 30K worth of graphics in your email, that adds at least 10 seconds to the time it takes your email to load? I don't think we have a single graphic in all of Net4TV that is as much as 30K, and very few pages that are that big in total (including all graphics and audio). You can get a lot of email sigs in your PageBuilder today, and remember that each of your accounts can have homepage.

Q: When I save a site in my Favorites, am I stealing bandwidth?

A: No. You are only saving the address (URL) of the site so that you can jump there quickly.

Q: I had a site at GeoCities saved in my Favorites, and I can't access it any more. I'm not even a GeoCities member. Why did they interfere with my Favorites on my WebTV box?

A: They didn't, but remember, a Favorites link is only the address of a site on the Internet. If that site is taken down, the Favorites link will no longer find it.

Q: Many webtv users think if they transload an html page that has graphics on it everything is fine. They seem to be under the impression that they won't be remote linking to those graphics.

Don't they need to also transload the graphics to the new host also? In other words if they transload an html page from geocities to tripod if they don't set up a new subdirectory or atleast transload all the images to tripod, they will be still remote linking to geocities. Those images don't automatically get deposited into the new host site just because you transloaded the html page???

A: Yes, you are correct. Transloading the HTML page isn't enough -- you have to transload all of the graphics and audio files, too.

This is especially important if you have used links like <IMG SRC=""> in your page at GeoCities, and then transload the HTML page to Tripod or some other host. Those "absolute addresses" for the graphics are now remote loading from GeoCities. Transload them to your new website directory, and make sure you change the links to point to them in their new location.

Q: I have a tripod account and i only thing I am worried about Is Tripod Next? I have many images that are saved on my filemanager but I may have a few that are link to my friends sites, etc. I have a link page that I use as help to build homepages. but none of them have geocities addy i think. Does tripod have a similar condition since yahoo is part of tripod too...Should I transload everything that I have into the webtv builder. and if so can I still have a link page and webrings?

A: Yahoo! isn't part of Tripod -- Tripod and Angelfire are part of Lycos, a Yahoo! competitor. Tripod also doesn't allow remote loading, but they have taken a different approach so far -- they actually block many files from being remote-loaded. You can still get to the files, but you have to go through an intermediate page first, and that reduces the problem very much.

Lots of people complained when Tripod started doing this, but now it looks like a good thing. Many of the people who were shut down at GeoCities weren't remote linking themselves, but other people were remote linking from them. It's better to just not serve the graphic to eliminate the problem, than it is to shut down someone who isn't themselves guilty.

Remember, the "linking" that we're talking about is "remote loading" of files. No one is telling you to take off the clickable hyperlinks to your friends' home pages.

Q: Do they just have that "remote loading" part in the TOS because they don't like WebTV users? Computer people can upload and download...

A: No, some computer people are guilty of it, too. For example, if you want to show a picture of your item on eBay, you have to remote load it. That was another reason that Tripod blocked remote-loaded images.

Q: I liked having MIDIs and RAMs in my email, and the PageBuilder doesn't support them.

A: Regarding MIDIs, bang on WebTV's door and demand they add support for them. After all, TV is an audio-visual medium.

But regarding RAMs, this is something that you should NEVER put in an email or post, at least not with "autostart=true" on. It is absolutely the worst theft of bandwidth that you can do because it continues to load as it plays, and it also sucks up a very expensive RealAudio stream.

Q: The feature I read about Geocities has me both confused and frightened. My e-mail signature contains a free background and a song for which I was given permission to use after contacting the site owner. (This has given me great pleasure and have had no complaints from the few people that I do e-mail). I did not transload them; this is something I am still learning. Being a newbie, I'm frightened that I may be in a violation of some sort without even knowing. I do not have a web page. What do they mean by 'homesteader'?

A: Many people who homestead (build home pages) on the free hosting sites have given permission to other people to use their graphics and audio, not realizing that it could cause their homepages to be shut down for a Terms of Service violation. So, if someone says that you can put graphics or audio from their web page in your signature, ask them to make sure that it's not going to cost them their home page.

For More Information

If you need some help in moving or "mirroring" your site, several people have volunteered to help you.

Here's Help for GeoCities Builders! has the offers of a number of volunteers.

We also have a companion story, All About Remote Loading and Bandwidth Theft that will explain what Remote Loading actually is and why it is not a good thing.

Nirvana has also contributed some advice in Staying Within the TOS at GeoCities.

You'll also find these resources by Beth Candy to be helpful, especially relating to your PageBuilder files.

Complete Uploading -- Step By Step

All I know About Uploading

All I know About Transloading

My Sig Storage

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