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Author’s eBook Giveaway Runs Afoul of Google Copyright Bots

pythonbookApparently Google has a problem with its ads being posted on sites that “distribute copyrighted materials.” (Never mind that this should mean they shouldn’t have ads on any sites, given that under the law any material that is created is instantly copyrighted to its creator.) Techdirt’s Mike Masnick posts about technical author Cody Jackson, who decided to give away electronically a book he wrote about the Python programming language as a way to give back to the open source community—which resulted in Google disabling AdSense ads on his site because of this violation of its policy.

Puzzled, Jackson pointed out that he is the author and copyright holder of the work in question, and he had explicitly granted permission for this distribution. No dice, Google said. So he removed the links to torrents on Pirate Bay and Demonoid, even though he felt they were still perfectly legitimate…and Google still refused to reinstate ads on his site, apparently because he had the temerity to mention Pirate Bay and Demonoid—but Google won’t actually explain exactly why.

Back when I was blogging for myself, I at one point had Google disable ads on my blog because I had the gall to post, “Hey, look, I’ve added Google ads to my site.” Apparently mentioning the ads counts as incitement to click on them, which is a no-no. (The first rule of Google ads is…you don’t talk about Google ads.) I’ve not been terribly thrilled with Google’s advertising program since then.

It sounds like Jackson ran afoul of an automated system that isn’t subject to human review—the advertising equivalent of zero tolerance. And with a behemoth like Google, it can be difficult to get in touch with any actual human beings. So here we have an example of how Google, who has done so much for promoting the distribution and location of information, is actually serving to block (or at least penalize) its legitimate flow.

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