Advertisers Get Another Shot at Google

      SAN JOSE (CN) – A federal judge Tuesday gave renewed life to a class action accusing Google of refusing to pay some AdSense advertisers.
     U.S. District Judge Beth Freeman partly withdrew dismissal of a complaint accusing Google of canceling AdSense accounts to duck payments owed from ad revenues.
     Free Range Content et al. sued on behalf of North American advertisers “whose AdSense program account balances were withheld entirely upon their termination from the program.”
     They say Google owes them “substantial ‘unpaid amounts'” after invoking “an unlawful liquidated damages provision that is unenforceable under California Civic Code § 1671(b).”
     When Freeman dismissed the class action in February, she allowed Free Range to amend all claims except the one regarding liquidated damages, which she dismissed with prejudice after Free Range’s attorney agreed to give up on that point.
     Free Range said its attorney erred and filed a motion to, which Freeman granted.
     Google AdSense pays website owners and publishers a percentage of revenue from ads that appear while people browse their sites. When visitors view the ads or click on them, Google is supposed to pay the website owners a portion of revenue from those ads .
     Free Range, of San Francisco, claims Google invokes its unlawful liquidated damages provision to close AdSense accounts knowing it owes the owners money. Account terminations can cost website owners and publishers tens of thousands of dollars a year in lost revenue, according to the original complaint.
     Google claimed it had every right to close Free Range’s AdSense account and that the company’s complaint would “turn contract law on its head.”
     “After enjoying the benefits of participating in the AdSense program for a year and a half, plaintiff, by its own admission, breached several explicit terms of that contract,” Google claimed in its motion to dismiss.
     “Google then did exactly what it said it would do in the contract – it closed plaintiff’s AdSense account, did not make a payment to plaintiff that, pursuant to numerous contract provisions, plaintiff had no right to receive, and refunded the withheld payment (along with Google’s revenue share) to advertisers,” the company added.
     In her February dismissal, Freeman said Free Range would have to “plead additional facts demonstrating defendant’s alleged bad faith beyond that of simply exercising a contractual right to terminate accounts and withhold payment.”
     Free Range also must demonstrate that it did not waive its right to payment by not disputing Google’s withholding of payment, as required by the AdSense terms of service, Freeman said in February.
     On Tuesday, she granted plaintiff’s motion for reconsideration, withdrew her Feb. 12 order denying them leave to amend their sixth and seventh claims, that Paragraph 10 of the AdSense Terms of Service, and gave them until Sept. 15 to more properly allege their liquidated damages theory.

%d bloggers like this: