I guess it was only a matter of time before the growth in group deal sites started a few arguments. Cudo has asked Buyii to stop linking to its deals, kicking off the kind of argument about deep linking that we mistakenly thought had been settled more than a decade ago.
If you visit Buyii right now and see a deal listed from Cudo, you'll notice two things: the site no longer features a description of the deal, instead using this text:
Cudo has threatened Buyii with legal action for publishing their deal descriptions. This is regrettable as it only inconveniences everyone. If you are disappointed as we are, let Cudo know by email!
It has also dropped using the Cudo logo.
According to Buyii's founders, the company received a legal letter from Cudo (which is a joint venture between Microsoft and Nine Entertainment Group) last week demanding that it stop linking to the site and copying its descriptions. The letter argues that Buyii is essentially trying to pass itself off as an affiliate of Cudo, and that this could be confusing to consumers.
While I am not a lawyer, from a legal standpoint I imagine Cudo is well within its rights to demand that Buyii doesn't use its logo or directly copy its descriptions. In a similar case, Ice TV's successful defence of writing its own TV guide descriptions was that it gathered the data itself, rather than "scraping" it from elsewhere. AllTheDeals, which is the other group aggregator site that covers Cudo offers, offers nothing more than a headline and a link; Buyii's switch means it essentially matches that model.
That said, I think Cudo is on a hiding to nothing (in reputational terms if nothing else) if it tries to argue that no linking of any sort to its deals is permissible. After all, a big part of the success of these sites relies on the deals being shared as widely as possible. And in the grand scheme of things, I suspect Cudo has bigger problems to worry about than whether it appears on an aggregation site. Apart from anything else, if anyone wants to sign up for those deals, they still have to register with and use the actual Cudo site. What do you think?
Update: Cudo has given its side of the story.