Google AdSense – What is prohibited content?

I recently signed up for Google AdSense and my application was denied, citing:

“we have disapproved your account for the following violation(s):

Issues:

– Copyrighted material

According to the Google FAQ:

Google ads may not be displayed on websites with content protected by copyright law unless they have the necessary legal rights to display or direct traffic to that content. Some examples of copyrighted content might include MP3 and video files, television shows, software, comics, and literary works.

After much head-scratching as to what post on my blog could have infringed on someone’s copyright, I figured the only possible offending post could be one that contained a link to a Grooveshark playlist I posted. I removed the post and resubmitted my Google Adsense application, successful!

Grooveshark is a music streaming service that hosts it’s own content, so initially I was confused since I did not host the content myself. I think the key phrase in the Google FAQ entry above is:

“…unless they have the necessary legal rights to display or direct traffic to that content. “

Grooveshark provides several methods of sharing and linking to it’s content, so I doubt I was contravening Grooveshark’s terms of service. I suspect the legality of Grooveshark itself could be in question. Either way, if you find yourself in a similar situation, hopefully this sheds some light on the vague rules that govern the Google AdSense application process.

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