Google Always Wins: AdSense Publisher Gets Shot Down in Appeals Court

Jun 9, 2009 • 8:44 am | comments (8) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google AdSense
 

In early March we reported that if you take Google to small claims court, you might win. It talked about the story where a small AdSense publisher sued Google in small claims court for terminating his account and not paying him. The publisher won in small claims court, but on May 22nd, Google took the publisher back to court, to appeal the decision and Google won.

Google showed how the publisher violated the terms of service and thus had the right to be terminated. Specifically, the publisher asked his viewers to click on the Google ads, which is not in accordance with Google's TOS. The court reversed the decision and the publisher went home empty handed.

I posted screen captures of the violation and the court PDF at Search Engine Land.

Lesson learned: Do not sue Google when you are clearly wrong, it makes all publishers look bad.

Forum discussion at Sphinn and DigitalPoint Forums.

Update: You can read the publisher's side of the story, which has a lot more detail, over here.

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Comments:

Gavin Smith

06/09/2009 02:40 pm

Wasn't the reason he took them to court down to Google not giving him any information and ignoring him when he tried to find out why. I think the lesson here is that Google needs to be more accessible to people that make money from them and yes the guy is looking a little dumb after such a clear violation of the T&C's.

Barry Schwartz

06/09/2009 02:49 pm

Or maybe Google doesn't want to release info on individual publishers for confidentiality?

Gavin Smith

06/09/2009 03:25 pm

Thats is true Barry. But the reason they lost the first case was because both the guy and Googles lawyer were clueless as to why the account had been closed. If there was an additional line in the email Google sends to account administrators stating the reason other than the usual "Violation of T&C's" both these court cases could have been avoided.

Barry Schwartz

06/09/2009 03:32 pm

Right, I kind of agree with you on that. But I also see why Google wouldn't want to say exactly why certain accounts are terminated, even directly to those that are terminated.

Gavin Smith

06/09/2009 03:44 pm

But that leads to gray areas which are open to interpretation which is exactly why this got to court in the first place. What strikes me is that the Lawyer that Google sent knew as much information about the cause as the account holder. It took them receiving bad press on this case to go into the database and find the notes on this guys account as to why it was closed.

Barry Schwartz

06/09/2009 03:57 pm

It took them going to court to reveal this info publicly, which also embarrassed the publisher.

Thomas Schmitz

06/09/2009 05:36 pm

I'm surprised this got reversed in appeals. Normally Appeals courts do not retry cases. They look at the case and decide 1) Were there flaws in the trial? 2) Was the decision correct? If there are flaws in the original trial an appeals court normally sends the case back to be retried. If the decision is incorrect they can overturn the decision based on precedent or written law. The fact that Google refused to disclose evidence at the plaintiff's request but then disclosed it after the trial because it suited Google ought not be grounds for dismissal. Clearly the plaintiff violated Google's terms of service. That stated, Google should have squashed him like an ugly bug during the original trial, not after. This appeals court accepted and examined new evidence. I suppose you get second chances in small claims.

Barry Schwartz

06/09/2009 05:45 pm

Thomas, not sure if this was named exactly "appeals court" or something else, since it was all done in small claims court. I am not sure, but all the paper work is linked to above.

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