Google cleared in ringtone lawsuit


A federal judge has tossed out a lawsuit alleging Google displayed fraudulent ringtone advertisements on its AdWords platform. According to the ruling by District Court Judge Jeremy Fogel, the federal Communications Decency Act clears Google from any liability for pay-per-click ads created via AdWords: "Providing third parties with neutral tools to create web content is considered to be squarely within the protections of [the law]," Fogel writes. "Even if a service provider knows that third parties are using such tools to create illegal content, the service provider's failure to intervene is immunized."

The suit against Google was filed by New Jersey resident Jenna Goddard, who claimed she was billed for a ringtone subscription after entering her mobile number into a fraudulent site she discovered through AdWords. Goddard's suit argued Google violated its own stated policy requiring mobile content ads to direct consumers to landing pages with accurate pricing information. Fogel dismissed the case without prejudice, effectively allowing Goddard to file an amended complaint at a later date.

Goddard was represented by law firm KamberEdelson LLC. Earlier this year, the firm won a lawsuit awarding refunds to AT&T subscribers subjected to unauthorized third-party mobile content charges--the settlement involved more than a dozen lawsuits filed by AT&T subscribers across the U.S., and although the financial terms remain unclear, the operator agreed to pay $4.3 million simply to cover the plaintiffs' legal costs. KamberEdelson also won a settlement in a class action suit alleging mobile entertainment provider Mobile Messenger with allowing unauthorized mobile content charges, saying the firm failed to install adequate safeguards to ensure customers were only billed for services they agreed to purchase. In addition, KamberEdelson was one of several firms that successfully brought suit against footwear and clothing manufacturer Timberland for unauthorized text messages advertising its products.

For more on the Google ringtone suit:
- read this MediaPost article

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