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Court Ruling: Big Search Can Refuse Ads

The Web's major search providers won a big victory in a U.S. District Court in Wilmington, Del., on Wednesday, when Judge Joseph Farnan ruled that the Web giants could refuse to run ads from certain advertisers.

Stephen Langdon, a North Carolina resident who oversees Web sites claiming to expose corruption by U.S. and Chinese government officials, sued Google for refusing to run his ads. Microsoft's MSN also ignored his ad request, and Yahoo refused because Langdon's sites weren't part of its ad network. Google cited a breach of policy in declining to run the ads; the search leader says it doesn't run ads for organizations advocating against groups or individuals. That may call into question Google's decision to sell advertising to political groups like and presidential hopefuls buying AdWords to bring users to their sites.

Nevertheless, Judge Farnan ruled that when it comes to advertising, search engines, like other sellers of advertising, aren't bound to the First Amendment. They can accept or refuse to sell ads to whomever they please. However, one claim remains: whether Google breached a contract it had with Langdon in allowing him to sign up for AdWords.



Read the whole story at The Wall Street Journal »

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