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When a publisher steals your content:
If someone is using your content without permission and is running AdSense on that content, you can file a DMCA with Google [google.com]. You can also use this to see those pages removed from the regular Google index.
You need to follow all instructions they give you, for it to be considered a legal DMCA notice, then send an email to the AdSense team at email@example.com. Once this is done, Google will investigate remove the pages from the index (usually takes about ten days once they have received it), and will either warn or suspend the publisher. They will also send a copy of the notice to Chilling Effects [chillingeffects.org].
When you are the one publishing the infringed content:
I don't know how many people file DMCA requests, rather than going the "cease and desist" route, but if you are stealing content from someone, consider yourself warned. Victims of copyright infringement may be more likely to react when they see you making a profit off of their content without permission.
If Google receives a DMCA filing with URLs you are running AdSense on, they can (and have done so) suspended publishers from the AdSense program. The very least they will do is place a block, either on those specific pages or that entire domain, to prevent AdSense from showing on those pages, even if the AdSense script is present. They may also suspend the account until the infringing content has been removed. And yes, they have suspended publishers for copyright infringement when a DMCA has been filed.
When you have been falsely accused of copyright infringement as an AdSense publisher:
You do have options. You can file a Counter Notice [google.com] and then contact the AdSense team once you have done so.
I suspect that this must be something the AdSense team is asked about frequently, since it has been included in the FAQ. Many publishers and non-publishers have been anxious to see something spelled out more clearly about publishers who steal content for their own AdSense profit. But it hasn't been clear exactly what to do when the victims wanted to make sure AdSense was aware that
I am wondering how they choose to enforce this - will it be a standard suspension for any infringers - or will there be varying levels of "punishment" depending on who the publisher is and perhaps by how much money each generates.
And things could heat up if they plan to apply this to publishers who take only partial content (a paragraph or two) from a variety of sources and place it on a single page. Will just one person filing a DMCA for a couple of paragraphs being placed on a site be enough to suspend the publisher's account? Or could it fall under "fair use".
This fits in nicely with the People using my content to make Adsense money: Is this Evil? [webmasterworld.com] discussion over the last few days.
You can also read the copyright infringement in the AdSense FAQ here:
My company always asks. I know it isn't always necessary but it helps keep an honest, clean, website, and company name and shows respect for other websites.
You wouldn't believe the doors that this practice can open for a website. We have scored valuable links, traffic, credibility, respect, brand awareness, cross promotions, friends, partnerships... from some of the largest brands and smallest brands in our industry(s).
I don't think this contradicts the abilty to use the content - you simply can't claim its yours. In other words, just because someone owns copyright, doesn't mean you can't reproduce it - PROVIDED that they give you permission (which, as you noted earlier, they do).