Newly appointed Conservative Party Chairman, Grant Shapps, has co-founded a business with his wife, which sell content plagiarising software, designed to illegitimately boost a company’s profits by deliberately breaching Google rules.
The software package known as TrafficPaymaster is sold for $297.00 (£187.00) by HowToCorp, and boosts advertising via the search engine, by pulling content from other websites and ‘spinning’ it; a move which directly contravenes Google rulings.
The Google AdSense service pays website owners in exchange for hosting advertisements. TrafficPaymaster allows users to take advantage of this by ‘scraping and spinning’ the content on this sponsored site and benefitting without producing any original material. As such TrafficPaymaster is barred by the strict plagiarism and content rules observed by Google.
The guidelines for Google AdSense clearly state that "Sometimes we come across sites that are using software to generate automated content. These sites might look like normal news sites, but the information is completely plagiarised.
Scraping content and passing it off as one's own is not only wrong, but it also happens to be a serious violation of our policies."
Shapps, who was today promoted to Chairman in the Conservative Party reshuffle, is believed to have founded the company under a false name, that of Michael Green, along with his wife Belinda. He has explained previously that he used this name to differentiate his commercial and political activities. But a spokesman for Schapps claims that he has had nothing to do with this business since selling his shares to his wife.
Google may take legal action against HowToCorp, with a spokesman explaining "We take copyright very seriously and invest significant time and money in keeping advertisers and publishers that violate our policies out of our network.
"Google bans ads and advertisers involved in activities that infringe on copyright from using our systems and prohibit publishers that violate copyright from participating in AdSense".
Before becoming a Conservative Minister, Mr Shapps specialised in internet marketing. Another representative of HowToCorp, who also acted under the pseudonym Michael Green has been quoted as suggesting that Google was powerless to prevent illegitimate content and plagiarism.
The HowToCorp representative in question, Sebastian Fox, was quoted in an online forum saying "The real question is whether there are any signs about how a page has been created. If the answer is no, well then it doesn't much matter what Google officially thinks."
Mr Shapps has not commented on the claims though a spokesman did move to distance the Conservative Chairman from the particular business in question. TrafficPaymaster remains on sale from the company website.