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Job Jacking

(October 5, 2006) Imagine this.

You wake up one morning and discover that your lawn has been cut. It's not particularly well done. It's long enough so that it will need to be cut again next week. The trimming has not been done.

There is a note stapled to your front door that says: If you do not want your lawn trimmed next week, please place a sign in your front yard saying so. If you want a better job done, please do one of the following:

  • Contact an LEO (Lawn Equipment Optimization) Consultant,
  • Buy outdoor advertising from us, or
  • Place our billboards on your front yard (we'll pay you for this)

This is significantly more intrusive than the standard scam in which a donation is requested after the street number is painted on your curb. You'll notice that the process is opt-out rather than "opt-in". You'll also notice that the requirements for opting out are entirely the responsibility of a customer who never solicited the service in the first place. In this peculiar set of circumstances, none of the options really allow the lawn-owner to control his yard.

Now, imagine that twenty services were doing this to your front yard simultaneously.

That's what it's like if you have a set of job listings on your corporate website. It's what it's like if you run a legitimate job board, collecting fees for postings.

The gang member pulls up to your house, mows your lawn, takes your clippings and tells you that you can only stop him by placing a big sign in your front yard. Then the next one comes and so on. No respect for ownership, no respect for a particular approach to landscaping, no compensation for the value extracted, no consideration of the impact on the yard. It's just grab and run.

This incredible set of bad manners is brought to you by the likes of Jobster, Simply Hired, Indeed and a host of other examples. The model was established in days gone by FlipDog, CareerMosaic and CareerCast. "Spidered" job content has always been the ploy from job boards who were unable to muster a real sales force.

Copying the poor taste of large search engines, these jobjackers take without permission claiming that an opt-out policy is the same as "permission marketing".

Of course, the jobjackers reserve the right to protect themselves:

Such prohibited conduct includes, without limitation, any efforts to (a) log in to an account with a password not assigned to you, (b) access personally identifiable information not intended for you, (c) test the security measures on the Site and/or attempt to identify system vulnerabilities, (d) impersonate any other user of the Site and/or the Services or forge any of the header information in any posting or tamper with the TCP/IP packet header, (d) modify, reverse engineer, disassemble, decompile or otherwise attempt or allow others to attempt to discover the underlying computer code for the Site and/or the Services, or (f) overwhelm or disable the Site or the Services or interfere with the access and use of the Site and/or the Services by any other user. (SimplyHired)

They go on to say:

Your continued use of the Site and the Services is expressly conditioned on your compliance with the preceding prohibitions and with the obligations and restrictions. Without limiting the generality of foregoing, you acknowledge that SIMPLY HIRED expressly prohibits and you agree not to:

  • Use the Services and/or the Site to violate any applicable law or regulation, including, without limitation, the infringement of any copyright, trademark, trade secret or other intellectual property right of others, or violate the privacy or publicity rights of any other person.
  • Send unsolicited mail or e-mail, making unsolicited phone calls or sending unsolicited faxes and/or advertise any products or services either by directly posting on the Site or within the Services or by making unsolicited contact with any user via email, telephone, postal mail, or any other method of communication.
  • Make any changes, additions and/or deletions to any Submissions posted by any user with out the express written authorization of such other user.
  • Take any action that imposes an unreasonable or disproportionately large burden on Site's infrastructure.
  • Use any robot, spider or other program or device to retrieve or index any portion of the SIMPLY HIRED Site; (SimplyHired)

Which are, more or less, the very tactics that allow them to harvest other people's job content. You've got to wonder why it's good for the gander but not the goose.

So, let's start talking about why the new crop of job aggregators feel that it's okay to purloin the copyrighted material of others without their permission. While we've chosen SimplyHired as a target, the same onerous BS is a part of the operating materials of each of their competitors. As we see it, it's vandalism.

John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.
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