The W3C supporters program had been (ab-)used for a while now by, amongst others, SEO companies. They paid $1,000 to the W3C, and got a link on the supporters page in return, a PageRank 9 page. This way they increased their PageRank. Look among the links on that page, and spot the pages with “SEO” in their anchor text. You’ll see some very well known people in that list.
In an interview with Matt Cutts, John Batelle asks Matt a question on this topic, and Matt talks about what Google thinks is an appropriate way to include paid links, and says that apparently, the W3 have chosen to use a
meta index, nofollow tag on the page, which effectively means this link will not be counted in Google results.
[tags]w3c, google, matt cutts[/tags]