Policy Guidelines Regarding Non-Educational Advertising on University of Georgia Websites

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The University of Georgia is very fortunate to have an active and capable Computer Security and Ethical Use Committee. The charge to this committee includes the maintenance of the "University of Georgia Policies on Use of Computers," which includes a section addressing non-educational/commercial advertising on University websites. This section includes the following statements:

  • From the opening statement: References and links to commercial sites are permitted, but advertisements, and especially paid advertisements, are not. Users shall not accept payments, discounts, free merchandise or services, or any other remuneration in return for placing anything on their web pages or similar facilities.
  • From the associated comments: A few University sites, such as Georgia Magazine, may be authorized to publish paid advertising for outside clients as part of their official function. Because it imposes costs on the whole University network, this activity must be cleared with University-level authorities, not just system administrators or department heads.

The purpose of this document is to provide guidelines for applying the policies stated in the "University of Georgia Policies on Use of Computers" regarding advertising on University websites.

The term "advertising" as used in this document applies to any reference or link (either text or graphic) which creates a connection between a University website and a non-educational website (defined in the next section). However, there are two important senses of advertising. The one of less concern regarding these policy guidelines is "to make publicly and generally known" and the one of greater concern is "to call public attention to especially by emphasizing desirable qualities so as to arouse a desire to buy or patronize."* These senses will be used in assessing the appropriateness of advertising links in the examples which follow.


Websites Affected by These Policies

  • University websites: Of particular concern are official University websites. These include academic departments, administrative units, research centers, institutes, student organizations, and other websites which represent a group, as opposed to an individual. It is advised, however, that maintainers of personal websites follow these same guidelines.
  • Non-educational/commercial websites: All sites, either profit or non-profit, which are not clearly identifiable as appropriate to the teaching, research, and public service mission of the University of Georgia.

Assessing Appropriateness of Advertising

Following are three link classes: acceptable, questionable, and unacceptable without authorization by University administrators.

Criteria used in assessing appropriateness are: value added to the content or service provided by the web page; control of the link (voluntary, obligatory, random); level of endorsement associated with the link (none, tacit, explicit); remuneration received as a consequence of placing the link on a UGA web page.

  • Acceptable: Links to non-educational/commercial sites which provide software or services which are recommended for the delivery of content (web browser plugins such as Adobe Acrobat and QuickTime are common examples) are acceptable. Links to educational materials, such as books published by a professor or data required to perform a task or support a finding, are acceptable. Articles and similar references which enhance the value of the content presented on the UGA web page are acceptable. Either text or graphic links are acceptable, provided that the link does not include an explicit endorsement of the software, service, or provider of additional data and content. Text, or text included on a graphic, such as the following is acceptable:
Click Here to Download QuickTime
Text, or text included on a graphic, such as the following is not acceptable:
Click Here to Download QuickTime, The Best Multimedia Player Around!!!
These links must be completely voluntary with no remuneration of any kind to a UGA department or individual. In addition, there must be no contractual agreement between any UGA department or individual and non-educational/commercial entity.
  • Questionable: Of more concern are links to sites which provide content or services which are not directly related to the content or service presented on the UGA web page. These links are often to services such as guestbooks, web counters, weather gadgets, and specialized search services. In some cases UGA provides an equivalent service, but not always.
Links to such services should be used with caution and can under no circumstances be contractual. Some services offer HTML code to be placed on the Web page. You may use this code provided that the only link in the code is to the provider of the service. Even though the link may constitute a tacit endorsement of the service, there must be no explicit endorsement of the service.
HTML code which generates random links, often in the form of banner ads, is not acceptable.
  • Unacceptable without authorization by University administrators: All links other than those described in the preceding categories are included in this category. This includes any contractual agreements, especially those where remuneration of any kind is involved which may compromise the non-profit status or special interests of the University of Georgia.

More Information and Questions

Any questions regarding advertising on UGA web pages should be directed to the Office of Legal Affairs.


* Definitions from the Merriam-Webster Online Language Center

February 14, 2000

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