One of the defamatory statements Adblade made on several occasions was to falsely accuse Broadspring (8 years prior) of having distributed spyware. This stems from Broadspring’s acquisition in 2004 of assets of a company called Mindset Interactive, which at the time operated an adware distribution network business. Adware is software, which is downloaded onto a consumer’s computer with their permission, and which serves up advertising based on the consumer’s search activity and other factors.
The Adware which Mindset and then Broadspring distributed met the following criteria:
- Consumers consented to the download
- Consumers could un-install the software
Mindset and then Broadspring utilized a network of several hundred independent websites to distribute these adware products. These third-party websites were required to meet the above requirements as well.
In late 2004, Broadspring made the decision shut down this business and the adware distribution division was closed in early 2005. The decision stemmed from several factors.
Adware products distributed by Broadspring and others in 2004/2005 were often incorrectly labeled as spyware by third-party web sites and others. Most of these third-party websites were self-interested parties trying to make money by helping consumers block malicious software. Most of these sites made no distinction between legitimate adware and harmful spyware.
Also, in late 2004, Broadspring became aware that a website controlled by man named Sanford Wallace was downloading Broadspring’s adware to consumers’ computers without the consumer’s consent. On becoming aware of this, Broadspring immediately severed its distributor relationship with Mr. Wallace. These actions led to an F.T.C. lawsuit against Mr. Wallace for these practices. Broadspring was a victim of Sanford Wallace’s actions.
In 2005, as part of the F.T.C.’s investigation into Mr. Wallace, the F.T.C. sent a series of questions to Broadspring, among others. Broadspring answered all of these questions completely as requested and at no time did the F.T.C. indicate to Broadspring that it had in any way done anything wrong.
Adblade’s History of Distributing Adware
Adblade has been particularly disingenuous in pointing to spyware accusations on the internet, as Adblade itself is no stranger to the adware business. It in fact created its own adware product called the NetPass toolbar. This toolbar, has, in a similar fashion to the adware distributed 10 years ago by Broadspring, been labelled as spyware by several third party web sites. Of course Adblade did not mention this fact to publishers when it falsely accused Broadspring of distributing spyware.
Links to references to Adblade’s NetPass Toolbar as spyware:
Adblade’s Netpass toolbar was still being offered for download on their website as of February, 2015.
A complete copy of analysis of Broadspring’s Adware business and why it was not spyware, compiled by spyware expert Marty Lafferty, can be found here: Link
The jury in the case unanimously agreed that Adblade’s claims of Broadspring distributing spyware were defamatory.