Judge Says Search Engines Have No Obligation To Carry Ads They Don't Like

from the as-you-might-expect dept

As the various search engines, lead mainly by Google, have become more and more important in every day life, it seems that some people seem to be assuming that they now represent some kind of body that must grant certain fundamental rights to people. That's why we've seen all these lawsuits from companies upset that their search ranking sucks. The latest case is even more ridiculous. Someone bought some gripe ads on Google, Yahoo and MSN, only to have them rejected. He then sued all three companies arguing that the search engines should be required to post his ads. The judge in the case appears to have made quick work of it, dismissing almost all of the claims and pointing out in no uncertain terms that many were specious and frivolous. As Eric Goldman points out, there are a few key points in the judge's decision. First, search engines have every right (as per the First Amendment) to decide what does and does not appear on their own websites. Second, section 230 of the CDA continues to do its job granting search engines immunity from being sued despite editorial decisions. And, finally, the court found that since search engines are private entities and not government bodies, there's no First Amendment claim to censorship should they reject an ad. Once again, it's nice to see a good decision backed up with good reasoning on a tech case of this nature.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Jack, Feb 27th, 2007 @ 4:58pm

    I am Jack

    I am Jack's muted sigh of relief.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Suprised, Feb 27th, 2007 @ 8:16pm

    Suprised

    What they got one right :O

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 27th, 2007 @ 8:17pm

    Re: I am Jack

    How’s that working out for you Jack?

    What?

    Being clever.

    Great.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 27th, 2007 @ 8:49pm

    Re: Re: I am Jack

    Keep it up, then.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Morgan, Feb 27th, 2007 @ 8:56pm

    How long will it last

    I am frankly surprised that it got shut down so fast, I really hope it stays this way. But more and more, people resort to force of law over just not doing business with someone. ATM fees too high? Switch banks? No, sue for relief. McDonald's not selling hypo-allergenic, gluten-free, whole-oat, free-range-peanut shakes? Eat somewhere else? No, sue for relief.

    I guarantee we'll reminisce about the heady days when the search engines actually owned their own pages. Some judge will find it somewhere, in some arcane equal housing law or newspaper advertising statute somewhere, and the engines will lose their rights to everyone else.

     

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  6.  
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    Search Engines Web, Feb 27th, 2007 @ 9:21pm

    ONE JUDGE's RULING - even the Supeme Court Does NO

    It must be emphasized that ONE JUDGES ruling is just that. No one could predict what percentage of Judges would have disagreed with this ruling - nor - what would have happenned if this was fully appealed as far as it could go.


    Yahoo claimed they only took ads from sites they hosted - while Google claimed they do not take ads that criticize people. MSN did NOT respond


    These are three distinct reasons for refusing an ad.
    While Google's stance is understandable - Yahoo's stance just appears to be selfish

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Bob, Feb 27th, 2007 @ 10:52pm

    Re: ONE JUDGE's RULING - even the Supeme Court Doe

    Who cares about the reasons given? Bottom line is it's their site. What does or does not appear on it is entirely up to them, reason or not. There's no law that says they "have" to carry anyone's ad or search listing.

    Don't like it? Go start your own site and do it better.

    If not, just shut up about "fairness". They built the ballpark, they brought the bases, bats, gloves and balls. Guess whose rules you're going to use if you want to play...?

     

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  8.  
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    icabod, Feb 28th, 2007 @ 1:35am

    Bought or Tried To Buy?

    "Someone bought some gripe ads on Google, Yahoo and MSN, only to have them rejected."

    There's an important distinction between "bought" and "tried to buy". If he had actually bought the ads then yes, sue away... even if they were rejected and his money returned I would say some action could be taken. However as I understand it he never actually succeeded in buying the ads, so the article is a little misleading.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    icabod, Feb 28th, 2007 @ 1:35am

    Bought or Tried To Buy?

    "Someone bought some gripe ads on Google, Yahoo and MSN, only to have them rejected."

    There's an important distinction between "bought" and "tried to buy". If he had actually bought the ads then yes, sue away... even if they were rejected and his money returned I would say some action could be taken. However as I understand it he never actually succeeded in buying the ads, so the article is a little misleading.

     

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  10.  
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    |333173|3|_||3, Feb 28th, 2007 @ 2:25am

    Newspaper Ads

    I am sure that TV and newspapers and so on have the right not to allow any specific advertisement, for example one which was felt ot be pornographic or which which promoted thier competitors, or which advertised an opposing political party, provided they did not just take the money and run.

     

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  11.  
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    Vincent Clement, Feb 28th, 2007 @ 6:05am

    Re: ONE JUDGE's RULING - even the Supeme Court Doe

    Do you think this is the first time any court has ruled on this issue? I'm certain that there have been similar cases concerning newspapers, magazines, radio stations and television stations.

     

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  12.  
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    taylor eury, Feb 28th, 2007 @ 7:38am

    search engines

    i read the article about how alot of search engines are getting sued because they wont run some peoples adds. People think that they are required to run there adds...but just like every other company you dont have to run peoples adds and i dont think that people understand that just because it is a computer doesnt mean that they have to run the add and i agree with the judge for dismissing the case!

     

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  13.  
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    Tyshaun, Feb 28th, 2007 @ 7:57am

    Good decision but...

    It was a good decision but something troubles me. Remember back when Google was getting panned for censoring search results for the Chinese market. People reeled on and on about how they were wrong and shouldn't do it, how is there decision in China any different than this one and why aren't people upset that Google is in effect "censoring" who can and can't access their services and the type of information they present?

    Let me state that I didn't have a problem with what they were going to do in China either as they are a private company.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2007 @ 10:47am

    Right decision here, but it does bring up a troublesome issue. Suppose that further down the road, a search engine becomes a virtual monopoly (-> google). It could easily become very problematic if one entity became "gatekeepers" to the Internet, regardless if that position was achieved capitalistically. (I think I made that word up, but you get my point)

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Chris Langdon, Mar 2nd, 2007 @ 12:31am

    Langdon v. Google

    My lawsuit, Langdon v. Google includes accusations that Google removed my website, www.ncjusticefraud.com from its 638 search results for "Roy Cooper" while Microsoft and Yahoo reanked it in the top 20 in their results for the same search.
    That is contrary to Google's numerous public assertions that its search results are "objective" the result of a computer algorithm. The truth is, there is
    human manipulation in their results. Why didn't the arrogant Eric Goldman mention these facts?
    The analogy to a newspaper is ridiculous. There must be a thousand newspapers in the country, but only three search engines, with half of all searches being done on Google. Doesn't it bother anyone that one company can arbitrarily remove a site from half of all internet searches, without any viable reason.
    Google doesn't allow ads or against individuals?
    Just search "Impeach George Bush" and you'll see that's just another Googlie.

    Chris Langdon, qiology@aol.com

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Dekayd, Apr 25th, 2007 @ 8:38am

    Re: I am Jack

    I am Jack's colon, I get cancer, I kill Jack.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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