Google ad service bans author for linking to self-published book on The Pirate Bay

September 28, 2012

An author was banned from Google’s advertising program for using Bittorrent to distribute his book for free, and for linking to the torrents on his site. Though he removed the offending links, Google refused to rescind the ban.

Cody Jackson authored a book about the programming language Python while he was deployed in Iraq, he told the website Techdirt. He made the book publicly available as gesture of gratitude to the free software community, which was tremendously helpful for him over the years, he said.

On his website, Jackson posted links to sites where the book can be downloaded, including The Pirate Bay and Demonoid. He also participated in Google’s AdSense service, which netted him around $6 a month in advertising revenue.

He received an automatically generated message last week notifying him that his site had been banned from AdSense. The email stated that Jackson violated a rule forbidding the “hosting copyrighted files on your site, as well as providing links for or driving traffic to sites that contain copyrighted material.”

The rules are part of Google’s policy of not allowing AdSense clients to host or link to copyright-infringing material. Google cited a page containing links to file-sharing torrent sites as an example of such a violation.

Jackson believed he was in the right, since he was distributing a book he self-published. He wrote to Google, explaining the situation and asking for his site to be reinstated in AdSense. Google responded with another bot-generated email saying his request was rejected.

Jackson removed the links, leaving only a mention that the books were available on the Pirate Bay and Demonoid. He wrote to Google again, which sent the same automatic reply as before.

“So, even after removing the links to my torrent files, Google's AdSense team still says I'm violating their policies,”Jackson wrote in his latest post. “Unfortunately, since you can never talk to a living person at Google, I don't know exactly what I'm doing wrong. Therefore, this site is now ad-free.”

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