Can you demand my name to give me a public link?


Software Architecture is a 162 pages course book on, you guessed it, software architecture. The book, which is a contribution to the Open University Netherlands (OUNL) to the Free Technology Academy is released under a Creative Commons Attribute ShareAlike License and downloadable for free and without any registration, from the URL above.

Can you demand my name to give me a public link? /img/fta_linuxquestions_1.png

The website Tradepub, a partner of (which is just one of the many partners of Tradepub, and is mentioned here because it is the website from which I and others arrived to the Tradepub pages shown here: please note their URL, the logo in the top left corner of the first one and above all the explanations from LinuxQuestions in the comments!) has a page devoted to this very book that says (see screenshot 1):

  Receive Your Complimentary Guide NOW!
  "Software Architecture"
  This guide will introduce you to the world of Software Architecture.
  Offered Free by: Free Technology Academy (FTA)
  Other Resources from: Free Technology Academy (FTA)

(none of the mentions of FTA in that page is a link to the FTA website)

Can you demand my name to give me a public link? /img/fta_linuxquestions_2.png

clicking on the Request Now button brings you to a separate page (see screenshot 2) that:

  • starts with “Request your Free Guide!”

  • then asks for your name, job title, business email address, phone number and other personal information

  • because (emphasis mine) “Complete and verifiable information is required in order to receive this offer”

all this, to get the address of somebody else’s public Web page, from which you can download somebody else’s free book without passing any personal information. Uh???

Giving for granted that an “offer” with that kind of attached requests and assertions is legal where that company is registered, here’s why I’m telling you this story:

  • personal curiosity: is this legal everywhere? It may very well be, for all I know. Just curious, really! Opinions from lawyers and privacy experts worldwide are very welcome!

  • public service to all Web surfers (since similar things also happen for OpenOffice/ LibreOffice and probably for thousands of other products): whenever you find free offers like these, please remember to check (by entering the name of the product in any search engine) if what you’re trying to get isn’t legally available anywhere else at less invasive conditions

Disclaimer: I came to know this story because I offered to be a tutor for the FTA courses and, as a consequence, subscribed to their mailing list to closely follow the FTA activities.

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