Looky here…

I'm a confessed geek — I code websites for a living. So when someone like John McCain sets up shop online (after "a Google" told him to do so, no doubt) I prod and I poke a bit to see how he chose to do it. And look at this… violation of copyright right there in the code:

Here's a snip of the innards of the shopping cart on ol' John's shopping cart at http://store.johnmccain.com:


    <div id="footer_bottom" style="visibility:hidden"> <!--     =========================================== VOLUSION LINK - BEGIN =========================================== Customer has agreed per Volusion&rsquo;s Terms of Service  (http://www.volusion.com/agreement_monthtomonth.asp) to maintain a text hyperlink to "http://www.volusion.com"  in the footer of the website. The link must be standard html, contain  no javascript, and be approved by Volusion. Removing this link  breaches the Volusion agreement. --> <p>Shopping Cart Powered by <a href="http://www.volusion.com"  title="Shopping Cart Software"   target="_blank">Volusion</a>.</p> <!-- =========================================== VOLUSION LINK - END =========================================== --> </div> 

Now, the web-savvy out there will notice that the div tag has a CSS style setting (visibility:hidden) that effectively hides it from view. It's a common enough trick used to disguise things you don't really want your visitor to see, but which have to be present on the page for whatever reason. But right there inside the same div is a link to the supplier of the shopping cart software, and it clearly states that the link has to be visible.

Couple of things: 1) if you're ballsy enough to violate a copyright agreement, then at least have the smarts to remove the comment from the code that so prominently flags your violation. 2) Big John has apparently contracted with an outfit called goptrunk.com for his adventures in e-commerce, so his web guys may not really know what the hell is going on — but as we all know ignorance doesn't exonerate you: they're the ones running the site, and they are violating their agreement, direct or otherwise, with volusion. And clearly the hacks over at goptrunk.com know about giving credit where credit is due, because their own logo is prominently displayed at the bottom of the McCain store. Finally, 3) it's a bit ironic that volusion.com is also the supplier of e-commerce to the Obama campaign (see http://store.barackobama.com/). Obama's site does display the necessary credit for volusion.com.

Now, the plot thickens. According to this story at pajama media, goptrunk apparently is accused of being a spin-off of tigereye, a largely Democrat-centered e-commerce outfit. I think they've got their story wrong and are simply missing the point that all these front ends feed off volusion.com for order fulfillment. And, yes, if you go to democraticstuff.com to shop, you'll find a volusion.com e-commerce site as well. So, it would appear that the tigereye crowd have managed to pull a fast one on a desperate McCain campaign: after their initial campaign tchotchkes vendor was busted for getting stuff made in Vietnam, they evidently decided to go with someone who knew the game better — and they just happened to be a democrat-run outfit. Good for them for picking a winner, and too bad for all the wingnuts who are having an additional coronary over this matter…