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Violation of Google ToS?

PostPosted: Sat Jan 07, 2012 5:38 am
by mun35
Strictly speaking, does ADP violate Google's ToS by changing the structure/format of the SERPs?

Re: Violation of Google ToS?

PostPosted: Sat Jan 07, 2012 11:11 am
by vinny86
link to the Google ToS ?
They haven't bothered ABP or adblock with it so i guess not

Re: Violation of Google ToS?

PostPosted: Sat Jan 07, 2012 2:06 pm
by mun35
vinny86 wrote:link to the Google ToS ?
They haven't bothered ABP or adblock with it so i guess not


Here's the link http://www.google.co.uk/accounts/TOS

8. Content in the Services
8.2 ... You may not modify ... based on this Content (either in whole or in part) ...


Perhaps, they haven't bothered ABP or adblock because they think it's strategically better to not do so (yet) rather than there's insufficient legal ground?

Re: Violation of Google ToS?

PostPosted: Sat Jan 07, 2012 2:29 pm
by vinny86
we did not modify. we just don't display them.
BAM ! loophole !! :wink:

Plus ABP+Adblock+Admuncher+peerblock userbase is "too big" and they will face user backlash if they make any moves to initiate legal action.

Re: Violation of Google ToS?

PostPosted: Sat Jan 07, 2012 4:06 pm
by lewisje
Some ABP lists have element-hiding rules that hide the ads but do not alter the organic search results.

Re: Violation of Google ToS?

PostPosted: Sat Jan 07, 2012 4:13 pm
by mun35
lewisje wrote:Some ABP lists have element-hiding rules that hide the ads but do not alter the organic search results.


"Contents" is defined to be more than just the search results though:

8.1 You understand that all information (such as data files, written text, computer software, music, audio files or other sounds, photographs, videos or other images) which you may have access to as part of, or through your use of, the Services are the sole responsibility of the person from which such content originated. All such information is referred to below as the “Content”.


The DOM seems to fall under it.

Re: Violation of Google ToS?

PostPosted: Sun Jan 08, 2012 4:44 am
by lewisje
Technically it isn't manipulating the DOM, just the CSS that tells the browser how to display it :P

Re: Violation of Google ToS?

PostPosted: Sun Jan 08, 2012 5:56 am
by mun35
lewisje wrote:Technically it isn't manipulating the DOM, just the CSS that tells the browser how to display it :P


DOM or CSS, they are both technically part of some data file - some source file.

Re: Violation of Google ToS?

PostPosted: Sun Jan 08, 2012 7:30 am
by Guest
Unenforcable.

Re: Violation of Google ToS?

PostPosted: Sun Jan 08, 2012 2:01 pm
by pirlouy
mun35 wrote:Strictly speaking, does ADP violate Google's ToS by changing the structure/format of the SERPs?

Why Google and not all websites ? Anyway, AB+ does not change any page by default.
What a strange question...

Re: Violation of Google ToS?

PostPosted: Sun Jan 08, 2012 2:05 pm
by mun35
pirlouy wrote:
mun35 wrote:Strictly speaking, does ADP violate Google's ToS by changing the structure/format of the SERPs?

Why Google and not all websites ? Anyway, AB+ does not change any page by default.
What a strange question...


Google is just one example -- they have a ToS online. I haven't gone through others' ToS, so I can't comment.

The key functionality of ABP is to make changes to a page, as wisely pointed out before, by making changes to the CSS.

Re: Violation of Google ToS?

PostPosted: Sun Jan 08, 2012 11:58 pm
by lewisje
mun35 wrote:The key functionality of ABP is to make changes to a page, as wisely pointed out before, by making changes to the CSS.
Actually that's just element-hiding, which is not IMO the key functionality; for me, the key thing is the actual blocking, to scan the HTTP requests made as part of the loading of the Web page (after the request in the URL bar) and block those that match a blocking entry and do not match an exception entry, solely by looking at the URL and the type of request, not at any of the content of a potential HTTP response.

The only reason I hadn't mentioned it in the context of hiding the ads is that the ads on SERPs are not fetched with a separate HTTP request and so in order to hide them from view, element-hiding must be employed (i.e., the ads still show up if you "view source" but they're just not displayed).

Re: Violation of Google ToS?

PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2012 9:02 am
by Wladimir Palant
The ToS is a contract between the website and the user, not between a website and some third-party software. Meaning that the real question is: "Do users with Adblock Plus violate Google ToS?" This is doubtful given that there is no actual website modification, Adblock Plus is rather preventing some web resources from downloading and applies some user stylesheets. But the question can only really be answered in court - I'm quite certain that we will never see that, Google will not go after its users (extremely bad PR move). Not to mention that most users never see the ToS, let alone agree to them. In other words, this paragraph might theoretically apply to Adblock Plus, but even if it does - it's effectively void.

Re: Violation of Google ToS?

PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2012 8:39 pm
by Guest
Wladimir Palant wrote:The ToS is a contract between the website and the user, not between a website and some third-party software. Meaning that the real question is: "Do users with Adblock Plus violate Google ToS?" This is doubtful given that there is no actual website modification, Adblock Plus is rather preventing some web resources from downloading and applies some user stylesheets. But the question can only really be answered in court - I'm quite certain that we will never see that, Google will not go after its users (extremely bad PR move). Not to mention that most users never see the ToS, let alone agree to them. In other words, this paragraph might theoretically apply to Adblock Plus, but even if it does - it's effectively void.


That's a good point. I feel more at ease about using ABP now. Thanks.

Re: Violation of Google ToS?

PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 2:21 am
by JoshTriplett
If Adblock Plus counted as "modifying the Content" for the purposes of the Google ToS, then so would all of the following:
  • Using a text-mode web browser, like links or lynx.
  • Turning off images or JavaScript.
  • Changing the font size (hitting Ctrl-plus or Ctrl-minus).
  • Browsing via a screen reader or other similar accessibility software.

HTTP user agents, such as browsers, exist to fetch and render sites under the control of users. The browser has complete control of how it chooses to display the page.

A site's Terms of Service could explicitly say that using an adblocker violates it (though they still couldn't enforce that), but the terms referenced here about "modifying the Content" don't cause a problem.