Google Forced To Pay For Libelous Search

News | 27th Nov

Internet search giant, Google could be forced to pay $200,000 in damages to one Australian music promoter after accusing them of links to organised crime.

Written by Kaye Neylon

Currently Google search results contain content to that which the company “publishes” and is held responsible for. A high court in Australia says Google is also responsible for obtaining and displaying the correct information to its search results.

The decision, if left unchanged upon appeal, could have huge repercussions after Google provided incorrect information and made damaging allegations against the Australian seeking damages.

Google will be forced to pay $200,000 USD (£130,764)to music promoter Milorad Trkulja, the plaintiff in the ongoing case. Trkulja took legal action against Google in 2009 after they refused to remove links to sites that incorrectly claimed the promoter has connections to organized crime in Melbourne.

Google’s stance, which has been approved by other courtrooms around the world, is that it is not a publisher. Its search algorithm points to the most likely links; no human beings were involved in the presentation of the search results.

A Google spokesperson told the courts:

“The sites in Google’s search results are controlled by those sites’ webmasters, not by Google.”

Google also informed Trkulja of this in 2009 and also claimed he must contact the sites to have the offensive content removed.

Trkulja successfully pursued this path, winning a similar libel award from Yahoo, which actually hosted one of the sites containing the false allegations against the plaintiff.

The jury at the Supreme Court of Victoria, Melbourne, partially agreed with Google that they were not responsible for the results until Trkulja asked it to take them down. However, because Google did not take forcible action to remove the sites that made the false allegations, it must pay $200,000 in damages.

Google is appealing against the court ruling. If Google win a favorable result, they would not be held responsible for the website content. Google be very well forced to comply with every ‘takedown’ request it receives from an Australian citizen.


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