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Arkansas Paper Upset Over Walmart.com Classifieds

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Wal-Mart recently partnered with classified Web site Oodle.com to launch free classified ads on Walmart.com and is already creating a controversy.

When users in Arkansas clicked on some of the classified ads on Walmart.com they were led to classifieds from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette newspaper. Paul R. Smith, president of WEHCO Newspapers, Inc., the company that publishes the Democrat-Gazette, said Wal-Mart and Oodle do not have permission to use the ads.

"We are not sure how we’re going to handle this,"Smith said.

Wal-Mart spokesman Phillip Keene said Oodle uses a programming protocol to get permission rights for searches and indexing of advertisements. If a site does not grant permission to make its content available on other sites, it will not be added to Oodle’s index.

Keene said the protocol setting on the Democrat-Gazette’s site gives permission for the ad’s use on other sites.

"I don’t think that is necessarily true,"Smith said. "We haven’t given anyone permission to lift information from our site and move it to their site."

Oodle.com CEO Craig Donato said the protocol provides access to his site as well as to search engines like Yahoo and Google. "It is simply linking our site to theirs. We’re not grabbing content. It is just directing more traffic to the site and its advertisers,"Donato said.

"If it didn’t take them to our Web site, we absolutely would not allow it,"Smith said.

Smith said the paper would decide over the next few days if it will take any action against Wal-Mart for linking to the classifieds.

"This is going to be around for a while; it is not something that has to be decided today. Until we decide, we will allow the links. Once we decide what to do, we will notify them of our decision,"Smith said.

 

Arkansas Paper Upset Over Walmart.com Classifieds
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