According to Forbes.com, a judge ruled on Monday that Google and its competitors have the same right as any media company to block ads they feel are inappropriate or offensive to customers or partners.
U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Farnan dismissed a suit filed last May in Delaware by would-be advertiser Christopher Langdon, who claimed Google, Yahoo! (nasdaq: YHOO - news - people ) and Microsoft (nasdaq: MSFT - news - people ) infringed upon his rights to free speech by refusing to publish his ads. The ads in question promoted Langdon's Web sites, which criticize some North Carolina politicians and the Chinese government.
"Search engines have a First Amendment right to reject ads as part of their protected right to speak or not," Farnan wrote.
The legal opinion will help search engines in future litigation, wrote Eric Goldman, director of Santa Clara University School of Law's High Tech Law Institute. "It's an emphatic and helpful win for the search engines."
The ruling allows the search engine to refuse an advertiser for any reason -- without the need to site any specific rule or regulation they might be violating.