- Over the years, we’ve pointed out repeatedly a massive Achilles Heel for Google: its often dreadful customer service. Trying to communicate with Google can often be like facing a giant white monolith, rather than any sort of human being. More recently, we’ve been concerned about Google’s willingness to be overly aggressive in “enforcing” copyright, in an effort to keep Hollywood (and Hollywood’s supporters in government) off its back. Combine those two issues, and you’ve got quite a story… such as the one from Techdirt reader Cody Jackson.
Last week, he was contacted by a Google bot, telling him that AdSense had been disabled. Why? Because they claimed he was distributing copyrighted content illegally. The email, which I’ve seen, notes that his account has been disabled for the following reason:
Violation explanationTo be honest, Google’s terms here make no sense. Basically EVERY website “contains copyrighted material.” Based on what Google sent to Jackson, no one could link to any website if they wanted to run AdSense. Google has a number of really good copyright lawyers, but they must have let this one slip by. I’m sure Google means ”unauthorized” or “infringing” copyrighted material, but that’s not what it says.
COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL: As stated in our program policies, AdSense publishers are not permitted to place Google ads on sites involved in the distribution of copyrighted materials. This includes hosting copyrighted files on your site, as well as providing links for or driving traffic to sites that contain copyrighted material. More information about this policy can be found in our help center (http://www.google.com/adsense/support/as/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=105956 ).
He was actually making $6/month with AdSense. I went through a similar experience, where an entire domain was blocked by AdSense bots for having hosted AdSense under the heading “My Sponsors” (their terms prohibit any such headings other than “advertisements”). I made the required change, though it wasn’t easy - it was hardcoded into an image by the theme designer. After all that trouble, I got a message from the bots stating that they have reviewed the changes and though they have no reason, they’ll keep it blocked anyways.
Google is DMV online. It doesn’t matter that the behaviour they are punishing catches numerous “false positives” - i.e., people who are not doing anything illegal or malicious but fall in their wide net - Google just doesn’t care about “collateral damage” and “innocent bystanders”; their noble goal of reducing the time Sergey and Larry spend with a computer is too glorious too look back.