Google punishes author for torrenting own book

Over zealous copyright protection enforcement from the big G
Darren Allan

September 28, 2012
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Google’s copyright protection and enforcement policies have come into question, after an author found his website punished due to distribution of “illegal” material – his own book.

This story comes from a Techdirt reader, Cody Jackson, who wrote his own book on programming with Python (the language, not the snake).

Jackson made the book available for free, hoping to spread the word about it, and perhaps get some donations and visits to his site – with the latter generating a little cash via AdSense.

The thing is, Jackson decided to distribute the book via P2P, and put up torrents for the tome on Pirate Bay and Demonoid, to try and get it out and about everywhere as fast as possible. This is his own (free) book, remember – yet Google detected links to these torrents from his site, and canned his AdSense account as a result.

Techdirt published the email he received from Google, which said: “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.”

Copyright violating material, they surely mean, but anyway… the point is that you can’t even put your own work up on these sites to distribute it, without being beaten over the head for violating your own copyright.

And of course, the worst part is, trying to communicate with Google and explain the situation is like talking to a brick wall, as Jackson found. He removed said links, but still Google’s automated responses came back telling him he was in violation of its policies.

So, in short, if your website has any sort of link to pages such as the Pirate Bay – even to a piece of perfectly legitimate material which you created and wish to be up there – you’re going to get in trouble with the big G. And you’re unlikely to be able to sort the issue easily, either.

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Comments in chronological order (1 comment)

  1. Web Dude says:

    Nice to see big brother Google deciding on the violation of copyright without apparently offering a chance of appeal.

    I can imagine it falls outside the Google ‘expectations’ over what authors do and thank Techwatch for bringing it to attention.

    Maybe someone at Google with a bit of ‘clue’ can
    a) fix it for this author (and in a ‘forever’ way so items with a GPL or priced at 0.00 or whatever can easily be excluded from their rules) and
    b) ensure there’s a method to appeal future ‘judgements’ made by the all-powerful big G

    I don’t use AdSense, I tend to avoid junk like Twitter / Facebook and tools from big corporations when it comes to promoting my work, and I boycott anything which ‘requires’ me to ‘like’ the firm on FB or ‘follow’ them on Twitter. I urge others to do the same.

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