Not only Google’s customer service is often regarded as a massive failure, but their sometimes overzealous attempts to stop piracy have also become an issue. The perfect example is Cody Jackson’s case – a writer who decided to make his book available for free. But how does Google act on this? Let’s see…
Before getting into this, we need to inform our readers that Cody Jackson has been into technology advancement since 1994. Before joining the Navy, he worked for Gateway Computers as a Lab Technician. While serving his country, Cody was a radcon technician and nuclear chemist; then he was moved to the IT department. Last but not least, the book’s author is a programmer, project manager, help-desk technician and supervisor, system administrator, and security manager. Just as impressive are his diplomas, among which we name: AS in Electromechanical Technology, BS in Computer Engineering Technology, MS in IT Management, and a Ph.D.-candidate in IS/IT Management.
Now, the book he published is called “Start Programming with Python”, and Cody decided to make it available for free as a “thank you” for all the benefits the open-source community offered him. While people can find various links to download his book for free, Cody also asked for people to support his work via donations. Also a source of revenues for the talented author was Google AdSense.
However, last week Mr. Jackson was contacted by a Google bot, informing him that AdSense had been disabled because he illegally offered copyrighted content. Here what the e-mail reads:
COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL: 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. More information about this policy can be found in our help center (http://www.google.com/adsense/support/as/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=105956 ).
The issue here is that even if a link carries legal content, it mustn’t do so via a website which hosts infringing content, which is absurd and impossible.
After receiving the letter, Jackson Cody contacted Google to obtain more information, while also explaining the search engine that he’s the author of the book, and that his work is published under a Creative Commons BY-SA license, making all copies found on The Pirate Bay legal and authorized.
Google’s response was:
Thank you for providing us with additional information about your site. However, after thoroughly reviewing python-ebook.blogspot.com and taking your feedback into consideration, we’re unable to re-enable ad serving to your site at this time, as your site appears to still be in violation.
If you’d like to have your site reconsidered for participation in the AdSense program, please review our program policies (https://www.google.com/adsense/policies) and make any necessary changes to your webpages. For more information regarding your policy issue, please visit https://www.google.com/adsense/support/bin/answer.py?answer=113061.
After reading Google’s terms again and again, Cody still found no reasons to remove the torrent links, but he did.
“The torrent was one of the first ways that I had made my book available, since that is where the technical people are likely to hang out. I figured a torrent file on the most popular torrent site was a no-brainer,” he wrote in an e-mail to Mike Masnick of TechDirt.
Cody tried once more to explain that he’s completely entitled to offer the book for free, but got the same answer. So, what is he to do in order to actually make some money and offer the book for free at the same time? Well, in Google’s opinion, he can’t.
It’s not likely that the search engine would change its policies for Cody Jackson, but that doesn’t mean they’re not the cause of some serious issues; and we’re pretty convinced that Cody’s case is not the first or the last one.