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.