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Google ordered to disclose advertiser information

Google has been ordered to disclose the identity of one of its advertisers. The High Court has issued the ruling to assist a potential copyright infringement case.07 Jul 2006

Google had declined to reveal the identity of the advertiser to Helen Grant, who had complained that a Google advert led to a service which she claimed violated her copyright in a forthcoming book. Google did not give the information, but the firm did advise Grant to seek the High Court order forcing it to comply.

Though the case, heard by Justice Rimer, did not hear why Google refused, Rimer said in his judgment that he assumed that it was because of a perceived duty of confidentiality to advertisers.

Grant is a trustee of a group called the Individuals Self-Discovery Trust, which says that it owns copyright in a forthcoming book, Unlock Reality. The book is due to be released in the US and UK in the autumn, said Grant.

Grant said that a search on Google triggered an advert for a site, Realityunlocked.com, which offered a free download of an earlier draft of the book, and that the site violated the Trust's copyright.

Google refused to pass on the details but advised Grant to follow the lead of Norwich Pharmacal in the1970s in seeking a High Court order to force the internet search giant to disclose the information. Grant did that and Google told the court that it would not oppose the order to disclose.

"For reasons shortly explained, I am satisfied that this is a case in which Google has become mixed up in the apparent wrongdoing of others and that it is in a position to disclose the identity of those others to the Trust," said Judge Rimer in his decision. "I will make an Order accordingly. I consider, however, as is usual in these applications that the claimant must undertake to pay Google's proper costs of providing the requested information."

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