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Wal-Mart Forbids Search Engines from Linking to Black Friday Ads

Always low, always

Last week select Black Friday websites received "leaked" Wal-Mart ads regarding what deals will be available at the big-box after Thanksgiving. But less than two weeks before the shopper's holiday, Wal-Mart has deployed a legal team to convey takedown notices to all such sites.

If that weren't enough, it is also targeting search engines that linked to the content. Lawyers told, a search engine/aggregator of various deals sites, that indexing and linking to the illegal content puts them in violation of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. But claims of copyright infringement and trade secret violations are not likely to stand up in court — if they ever got there — so TechDirt dubbed it a mere scare tactic

View the takedown notice.

The language in the letter also indicated Wal-Mart wants to shake down Black Friday websites to find the source of the leak, demanding that each "advise as to how you came into possession of the information and/or materials," lawyers wrote.

Last year Wal-Mart was the brick-and-mortar retailer that benefited most from Black Friday ad sites. The sites — which drew 52% more traffic than the year-ago period — sent the most consumers to Wal-Mart's website, according to Hitwise data for Nov. '07. (Sears and Best Buy were second and third, respectively.)

And unfortunately for Wal-Mart, its legal warnings seem to be doing the job. A search for "Wal-Mart" on, and all came up empty. What listings appear are old deals for previous years.

Other sites are less quiet about how they perceive Wal-Mart's actions. "By legally going after the sites that are spreading the buzz about the Wal-Mart specials on big screen TV’s and other deals, Wal-Mart is showing that they do not only understand Internet marketing, but also don’t get viral buzz and social media," wrote Search Engine Journal.


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