Believe it or not, a 62 year-old Australian man won $200,000 Australian dollars in a defamation lawsuit against Google. According to the records of the case, when the man’s name was entered into the search engine, the site would give results that showed he was a major criminal in Melbourne who had been targeted in a mafia hit.
The man’s name also gave results that referred to the city’s gangsters, crime bosses, and a site that was dedicated to discussing all the things that people involved in the criminal underworld are interested in.
Google stated that it had not done any defaming at all. It was simply passing on information that had been published elsewhere. The jury ruled against the search giant because the man had issued letters from his lawyers about the issue back in 2009. The company did nothing about it.
Legal experts have noted that this could be a case that sets a precedent. The court has said that this is not a matter of innocent computer architecture. This is software designed by humans to show information in a certain way. The judge has stated that because Google designed the search results to appear in such a way, Google is the publisher of the offending material.
Google of course sees it differently. Google stated that its search results ‘are a reflection of the content and information that is available on the web. The site’s in Google’s search results are controlled by those sites’ webmasters, not Google.’
The judge in the case said that Google is acting similarly to a library or newsagent, both of which have been found to be publishers for the purpose of defamation law.
Google, which has seen threats lately to its Google News service, should not feel too bad about this case – the same man also won $225,000 from Yahoo for the same thing! The man stated that his online reputation was being damaged as an entertainment promoter because of the bad search results.