AdSense Publisher Sues Google And Wins

Why I Sued Google (and Won) from the Huffington Post has a story about an AdSense publisher who sued Google and actually won.

I have seen the beginning of the story hundreds of times in forum threads, emails and via Twitter. Google terminated the publisher’s AdSense account because of “posing a significant risk to advertisers.” What exactly does Google mean by a “risk to advertisers” in this case? Well, Google typically won’t give publishers who pose a risk to advertisers an answer to that question. So you see thread after thread of complaints in the AdSense Help discussions forum and other forums. This publisher decided to do something about it.

He filed a suit in small claims court for $721 against Google. Since it was small claims court, lawyers are not allowed and Google sent a Paralegal. To make a long story short, the judge found in favor of the publisher. The judge said, “I don’t think I have the power here in Palo Alto small claims court to make you reinstate his account, but I think you owe this young man $721.” The judge also added, “I think there might be money in Google’s treasury for that.”

To be fair to the Paralegal, she had no information from the AdSense team as to why this publisher was terminated. So, when asked, she had no answer. She did say that Google’s terms of service allow them to terminate publishers for any reason they deem. In addition, the $721 that the publisher has claimed, according to Google, was already returned to the advertiser in a refund. The judge didn’t care and ordered Google to pay the $721 and $40.00 court costs.

Will this result in an influx of small lawsuits amongst terminated publishers and Google? Maybe.

Postscript: On May 22nd, the appeals courts reversed the decision based on finding evidence that the publisher did violate Google’s terms of service.

Related Topics: Channel: Display | Google: AdSense | Google: Legal | Top News


About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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  • borsodas

    nice to see the courts ruling in favor of the little guy… go obama!

    Just wanted to say i really respect and like your work. on sphinn: sadly I get frustrated with all the spammers and fakers and marketers in seo. I am embarrassed to say I’m in the industry, to my friends who are programmers/developers/designers, and look down on SEO. This is where some of my rebelliousness comes from. I am laying that down, I am not going to publish any articles on any exploits on seo sites I’ve found, I’m not gonna call out seo for the greyhat techniques which work. I’m going to write my big picture philosophy of good content vs. noise, that it be either artistic/creative, or useful/practical technology/information. That ultimately what we put on the web should be beneficial for society. not manipulative/deceiving.

  • Winooski

    Uh, sorry borsodas, but what does our President have to do with a member of the judicial branch who was in all probability recommended and approved long before the Obama administration took office? (Sorry to nitpick.)

    Barry: Re the AdSense Publisher himself, I’m curious why you didn’t mention that it was Aaron Greenspan, the originator of the precursor to Facebook at Harvard, and the plaintiff if an ongoing suit to get Google to stop considering “Facebook” as a trademark for the purposes of AdWords. It makes the AdSense suit seem like small potatoes, indeed.

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