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What constitutes "free desktop software"

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# 1
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I would like to get some clarity as to what constitutes "free desktop software" for the purpose of AdWords policies (as on https://support.google.com/adwordspolicy/answer/6023676#uc ).

 

Specifically: It appears that based on the recent AdWords policy changes, Google now believes that we (our site + AdWords ads that lead to it) "promote free desktop software" - which is only permitted under some restrictions, such as 1) having to register the authoritative site, 2) including the name of the software in the ad, and 3) more may be coming...

 

The problem is, that to my best understanding, the software we promote is not free. It is, in fact, a relatively expensive commercial package. We do, however, offer a free trial version, which has severe restrictions - such as that it only delivers valid data for 30 minutes and has to be restarted then - which makes it unusable for its true purpose which is industrial, mainly 24x7 operations.

 

I can guess (but only guess) that it is this "free trial" that lead Google to think our software is free. Now, the person in tech support asked me to fill in the registration form for the advertisement of free desktop software - which I can theoretically do if nothing else remains, but it seems totally wrong to do so, as our software is not free (in fact, in this particular case, free software is a nasty competition to us!). If I fill in the form, we would accept the qualification as having "free software", and will have to obey with the rules for it. And, I have hard time believing that simply having a free trial version should cause the software be classified as "free desktop software". Practically all paid software packages have a downloadable free demo version - otherwise it wouldn't be possible to market them realistically, who would pay big amounts of money for a software that he cannot even get his hands on?

 

So, a clarification to the term "free desktop software", especially in relation to free demo/trial version of PAID software, would be highly welcome.

 

My understanding is that the policy has been put in place to prevent the explosion of countless sites that offer the same free software, with no value added, except for maybe annoying ads, "bonus" malware etc. But that's not the case here. We have a site for a software the we have develop ourselves, and the software 1) is not free, and 2) nobody puts it on sites likes those that I have just described - because it would not help them in any way (besides being against our licensing conditions anyway).

 

I have also thought about a second reason: We have various license types, and one of them is called "Single Developer + Runtime Free" (or "Royalty Free"). This is common in our industry, and in short, it means that the customer pays a single amount but can deploy the software developed with our package on any number of computers without further payments. This, again, does not make software free in itself: Whoever wants to use it this way, must pay; he just does not have to pay per each deployment.

 

Thanks in advance

2 Expert replyverified_user

Re: What constitutes "free desktop software"

[ Edited ]
Top Contributor
# 2
Top Contributor

Hi @Zbyněk Z;

Run time version is considered a free software, since (commonly - as a standard practice) is  available for free for end users (non-developers).

Anyway, it will be hard to comment without looking at the site;

Please share the URL.

Moshe, AdWords Top Contributor , Twitter | Linkedin | Community Profile | Ad-Globe
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Re: What constitutes "free desktop software"

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# 3
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Thank you.

I have not written ""run time" vision" so I am not sure what you mean. I wrote "Runtime free", which in relation to paid software libraries, commonly means that the customer buys the library with money, but does not make subsequent payments for deployments of the software that he develops with the library. That is the case with our software, too. Non-developers cannot directly use it at all, it is a software library.

The site is www.opclabs.com.

Under Purchase -> License Types, it explains the "Single Developer + Runtime Free" license. And, of course, it is a paid thing - as can be seen on the Purchase (or Purchase -> Full Price List).

Best regards

Re: What constitutes "free desktop software"

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# 4
Top Contributor

Hello again;


My typo, it should have been "run time" version.
Anyway, I see your point;

  • How do you know that this is the Policy clause violated?
  • I the account suspended?
  • What was the Policy section, which Google mentioned as a violation, in the suspension email?
Moshe, AdWords Top Contributor , Twitter | Linkedin | Community Profile | Ad-Globe
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Re: What constitutes "free desktop software"

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# 5
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I see.
The account got suspended. The reason given was simply "Unwanted software". I got a clarification from the AdWords support that it "might" be due to not-full-properly-placed uninstall instructions and/or EULA (both need to be on the download page), so I have quickly added those. And the support responded with an additional requirement, to register as a promoter of free desktop software. And that point I started to thinking and investigating a lot, because according to any reasonable definition, our software is not free, and it seems improper to register it as such and have to comply with the restrictions that are attached to it.

I have replied to the AdWords support saying basically that such registration should not be required because our software is not free. While I was waiting for answer, I posted the question here. And, just together with your answer, I got a reply from AdWords that says that the registration of "free software" does apply to programs with demo versions that are offered for free, and that without us doing it, they will not let us advertise further. So they kind of answered my original question already now. Simply put, according to Google, having a free demo makes your software free. I think this is a nonsense and is actually not what Google has originally intended with the policy, but I do not know whether I will be able to get that overturned somehow.

Re: What constitutes "free desktop software"

[ Edited ]
Top Contributor
# 6
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Let me double check with Google on that;

You offer quite an expensive software for an industrial use. This is a common practice to offer a 30 day trial.

 

Moshe, AdWords Top Contributor , Twitter | Linkedin | Community Profile | Ad-Globe
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Re: What constitutes "free desktop software"

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# 7
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Thank you for further looking into this.

Re: What constitutes "free desktop software"

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# 8
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Just to be precise - a correction to my previous email - it is the Site that has been suspended, if that's different from having an Account suspended.

Re: What constitutes "free desktop software"

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# 9
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@Zbyněk Z;

OK; several issues here;

Before I explain further; I need to know whether you are actually the developer / producer or a reseller? If the latter applies (i.e. - A reseller)  in which territory   are  you an authorized reseller?

Moshe, AdWords Top Contributor , Twitter | Linkedin | Community Profile | Ad-Globe
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Re: What constitutes "free desktop software"

[ Edited ]
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# 10
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Zbyněk Z wrote:
The account got suspended. The reason given was simply "Unwanted software". I got a clarification from the AdWords support that it "might" be due to not-full-properly-placed uninstall instructions and/or EULA (both need to be on the download page), so I have quickly added those. And the support responded with an additional requirement, to register as a promoter of free desktop software. And that point I started to thinking and investigating a lot, because according to any reasonable definition, our software is not free, and it seems improper to register it as such and have to comply with the restrictions that are attached to it.

I have replied to the AdWords support saying basically that such registration should not be required because our software is not free. While I was waiting for answer, I posted the question here. And, just together with your answer, I got a reply from AdWords that says that the registration of "free software" does apply to programs with demo versions that are offered for free, and that without us doing it, they will not let us advertise further. So they kind of answered my original question already now. Simply put, according to Google, having a free demo makes your software free. I think this is a nonsense and is actually not what Google has originally intended with the policy, but I do not know whether I will be able to get that overturned somehow.

I am going through the same hoops at the moment:

Been dealing with this all since March 6.  Today is April 23.

Have had the same Google AdWords account since 2004.  11+ years.
Finished an appeal.  Fingers crossed. :/