What is Error 451?

Following a lengthy process of review, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) approved a special new HTTP status code HTTP 451 or Error 451. If you’ve stumbled across this recently, you may be wondering what it means. If you’re a business owner or an online publisher, you may also be curious if you’ll be needing to utilise this code at some point. Let’s break it down and take a closer look.

What is Error 451

Sound Familiar? If the number 451 rings a bell, it is probably because the name is inspired by Ray Bradbury’s well-known dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451. This code has been approved for use when websites are restricted or blocked for specific reasons: namely “legal issues” which prevent the website from being displayed. This is an important piece of information, because it automatically lets the web user know why a particular site or page is currently unavailable.

Different from a 403

There are plenty of mysterious error codes that can often appear throughout the web. A common one is the 403 status code, also known as a Forbidden error. The 451 code differs from this. A 403 code indicates a valid request from a user but that the server denies due to a lack of user permission. This might be for a variety of reasons, including attempting to access an Index page.

Why This Matters for Businesses

In the unfortunate (and probably unlikely) event that you encounter legal issues with your website, a 451 gives you options. Legal concerns that might cause a court order or other decree include copyright infringement, when a dispute about trademarks or copyright is occurring, or for other purposes. Should you be ordered to block web content for any government or legal reason, the code 451 allows you to display the code to users and saves your content on your host for later redisplay. This means less hassle for you, and increased transparency and information for your customers. As a web user, it also means more clarity regarding why you may be unable to access an online resource.

There When You Need It

You may never need this code at all. The majority of businesses have zero problems of a legal nature with their websites. However, in the unlikely event that you do have legal concerns, the 451 code can help make life easier for you and for your site. Webics can easily implement the code for our clients when necessary. Questions about Error 451 or any other website issues? Call your friendly Webics team today.


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