I’d Like to Buy a “U” (charging for free software)

Just for the one letter mistake of typing a URL, access to free software can land you on a site that charges for access to the same. I want to give a big thanks to Carolyn who emailed me this morning, about a bad link I had on a site more than a year old.

For a wikispaces set of pages used for presentations on Podcasting, Schmodcasting…. What’s All the Hype? I had a link to

Audacity – free audio editing software for Apple and Windows

but rather than correctly linking to the Audactty site at


I had dropped a “U”


which takes you to a membership site where you pay for access to downloading free software.

After pulling my disgust back down my throat, I have to say that what this outfit does is “legal” in the technical sense- and on their FAQ they state:

I thought the software was free. Why am I being asked to pay?
The software is free. You are paying for the online help and support and the online tutorials for the lifetime of the membership.

So they can make a thin case that they are providing a service.

But the whole thing reeks of rotten fish given their choice of a URL is aimed to profit from the mistaken entering of a URL. Sure, people have the right to run such businesses, but I cannot say it really feels like the right way to go about it.

I am just more intrigued by the notion of a one letter knock off of a URL landing you where you do not expect. Of course the old whitehouse.com .gov mixup is well known– are there other shady near misses lurking out there?

Ahhh, the cost and peril of a mis-typed URL.

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. The same is true of some government sites. If you type .com instead of .gov, you’d be amazed at the “value-added” service (for a fee) attached to a free government service!

    And please don’t argue that no govt. service is free. Believe me, I know!

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