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Google Found Guilty of Libel For Search Results In Australia

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the don't-point-at-that-guy-who-says-mean-things dept.

Google 223

Meshach writes "Google has been found guilty for refusing to take down a libelous search result in an Australian court (ruling). Music promoter Milorad Trkulja sued Google for refusing to take down links to website articles promoting libelous claims that Trkulja was connected to organized crime in Melbourne. Google told Trkulja to contact the sites on which the offensive materials were posted, as those webmasters controlled the content. But the Supreme Court of Victoria decided Google was responsible for removing the damaging links the moment Trkulja asked them to remove the content. As a result of the jury's decision in the case, Google will have to pay $200,000 in damages to Trkulja."

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Austrailia != Free Country (5, Insightful)

ilikenwf (1139495) | about 2 years ago | (#42110713)

Well, in terms of speech anyway. I don't think this would fly in the US unless some other corporate behemoth was the victim of the libel.

Re:Austrailia != Free Country (2)

Finallyjoined!!! (1158431) | about 2 years ago | (#42110821)

I read somewhere that the US had >70% of the world's lawyers, despite having less than 5% of the world's population, so I guess you'd be right then!

Re:Austrailia != Free Country (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42111053)

I read somewhere that the US had >70% of the world's lawyers, despite having less than 5% of the world's population, so I guess you'd be right then!

Maybe they can make a law against too many sequential consonants in a name. Like "Trkulja".

But yeah 70% of the world's lawyers. That ... that explains a lot.

Re:Austrailia != Free Country (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42111179)

Maybe they can make a law against too many sequential consonants in a name.

If they did, ex-USA volleyball player Bob Ctvrtlik [wikipedia.org] is in trouble.

Re:Austrailia != Free Country (4, Funny)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about 2 years ago | (#42111511)

At least there is one universal constant: we can blame Serbian (and maybe a few related languages.) The trick is that they throw unstressed vowels in to pad things out, but it's hard to predict where. Ctvrtlik = "stuh-vert-lick", and I think Trkulja = "truh-kool-yah", but it's hard to be sure. Could be "tur-kool-yah".

Re:Austrailia != Free Country (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42112019)

To be clear though, the lawyers aren't the problem. Lawyers are like legal engineers - they are hired on contract to complete the project the client asks for. Lawyers don't bring any claims on their own. They don't create legal issues that didn't exist.

The US has a system where freedom means you can have your claim heard. The vast majority of those are dismissed, but if you have so many claims, you need lawyers to help file them and fight them.

That is why I chuckle when I see people complaining about lawyers. It's much like complaining about software developers being the reason that database maintenance and bug fixes exist. Did you know that the US has more software developers than any other country in the world? Can't possibly be that people NEED them?

Re:Austrailia != Free Country (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42111147)

That is funny. A quick 'Google' search will show that you are wrong. I can only hope that Google doesn't link to your comment. Otherwise the US government might sue it for libel.

Re:Austrailia != Free Country (1)

BancBoy (578080) | about 2 years ago | (#42111405)

Undoing an errant moderating not-click.

Re:Austrailia != Free Country (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42111197)

I read somewhere that fools love to quote facts that are easily dismissed by a simple internet search [google.com] .

Re:Austrailia != Free Country (0, Offtopic)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about 2 years ago | (#42110901)

The true genius of Apple, Woz, said Australia was much better and he's wants to move there. How can he be wrong when everything Apple did that was good is attributed to him.

Re:Austrailia != Free Country (0, Flamebait)

Kergan (780543) | about 2 years ago | (#42110963)

If a troll decides to libel you all over the internet, the first thing you'll do will likely be to go to Google and kindly request that they strip out the results because, duh, it's libel. Google can argue all it wants that they're not responsible for the content on the sites that post it. And rightly so, as a matter of fact. Regardless, they link to it -- complete with abstract -- meaning they actively participate in the libel campaign. They're thus potentially as liable as the guy who posted the libel in question. If a troll was spamming trash at you all over the internet and Google (or Bing) wasn't linking to it, you simply wouldn't care.

It's about damn time a judge finally gave a decision in favor of the victim here.

This additionally has nothing to do with free speech, either. Libel is libel -- free speech doesn't allow you to spread outright lies about someone or some entity. You can argue whether it's libel or not in court; but once it's established it's libel, Google should be just as liable as the source for merely linking to it.

Re:Austrailia != Free Country (5, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | about 2 years ago | (#42110983)

Google isn't the perpetrator.

They are just making it easier to find the perpetrator.

THAT is who you should sue or prosecute.

Re:Austrailia != Free Country (4, Insightful)

causality (777677) | about 2 years ago | (#42111065)

Google isn't the perpetrator.

They are just making it easier to find the perpetrator.

THAT is who you should sue or prosecute.

And, does anyone else see the (huge) potential problem with the perception that "if Google doesn't list it, it does not exist"? They don't need to be even further entrenched.

Re:Austrailia != Free Country (2)

erroneus (253617) | about 2 years ago | (#42112049)

I do and I don't.

Google is where it is and is what it is because it's really good at its core business.

If the data exists on the internet and it is accessible to Google, then Google should capture the data. It is what they do and what we depend on them to do.

On the other hand, if the data is not relevant or currently accurate, then Google should have no problem purging cached results. So for example, a libelous comment or news article was made available online and then was retracted or removed by request and yet still appears in Google's searches, then Google should be obliged to remove it by request as it no longer reflects what is available.

From a purely functional standpoint, Google is a net positive for the internet. (For other reasons, I am less of a Google fan than you might think!)

Re:Austrailia != Free Country (2)

neo8750 (566137) | about 2 years ago | (#42111169)

This maybe true but google's pockets are deeper...

Re:Austrailia != Free Country (4, Interesting)

Tom (822) | about 2 years ago | (#42111619)

THAT is who you should sue or prosecute.

Sometimes that is quite difficult, for example, they might be in Pakistan or Nairobi or Russia. But without Google, pretty much nobody would find their page. Google does play a role here, they aren't the innocent bystanders they are making themselves out to be.

I don't think they should pay damages for the libel. I do think it should be possible to force them to remove search results, via the proper legal channels, i.e. a court order. Google is not above the law.

Re:Austrailia != Free Country (4, Insightful)

aitikin (909209) | about 2 years ago | (#42111911)

I take issue with the fact that you put the blame on Google* for not taking it down. The decision eludes to Google as a newspaper, and certainly if we were talking about Google's cache of the page then I'd be singing a different story. But even a newspaper (at least, from my understanding, IANAL although I have taken some law courses covering libel and slander) cannot be held responsible for putting a direct quote in. If I were to be interviewed and say, "Donald Trump is a mafia boss," and a newspaper had that line in there, they're not committing libel, I am. If they use my statement as their basis for their story, than that's a different scenario, but by quoting one phrase, or one paragraph and a headline, there is no indication of malicious intent or guilt.

*Google involved (from my cursory glance through the article and the actual decision) did not receive any court order, merely a letter from the plaintiff, or possibly an attorney thereof. I don't get to file charges against Rand McNally because someone bought a map, found my house, and stole my things, or is that a good idea too?

Re:Austrailia != Free Country (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42111719)

For australia Google should just block search results display only ads with a description of why there are no unsponsored results. That should set them straight.

Re:Austrailia != Free Country (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42111881)

This is actually a 8 year long story.

Trkulja was sitting at a restaurant in 2004 when he got shot in the back by a gang member. He survived and didn't know why the shooting had occurred as it appeared to not be random. So he searches online and finds himself listed as an associate and possible hit man for a Melbourne drug gang based off of a single picture.

Yes he sues the site and wins, he then finds that he is listed as a hitman in a yahoo group and sues and wins after Yahoo does nothing. He then finds that he comes up in google searches consistently as a hitman and in image searches, many returning images for the site/s that no longer present the images.

In 2008 he requests Google stop returning said image. They knock him back, there is a lot of back and forth and he has several previous court cases stating the exact image and associated text is libelous and Google is still presenting it in some cases independent of the now corrected originating sites. So he eventually sues Google and wins. I'm not a lawyer but it doesn't appear completely bad that Google should react to take down notices for images that are not even being shown by the original site anymore.

If I was a news service and declared an parliamentarian to be a pedo and didn't do enough to check, I lose a bunch of executives and suffer financial penalties. If the original he's a pedo story constantly gets presented by search engines even though it is wrong then what is the solution. I would think some form of correction aimed at search engines is not out of the question.

The interesting thing here is Googles' profit model is based on screwing with search results for money. So I see no problem with them being required to screw with search results for legal reasons. Of course Google could also pay some tax in Australia but that's another issue.

Re:Austrailia != Free Country (3, Insightful)

scottbomb (1290580) | about 2 years ago | (#42112175)

... it doesn't appear completely bad that Google should react to take down notices for images that are not even being shown by the original site anymore.

So far, yours is the only comment that I think actually makes a good case in favor of the plaintiff. Google caches thumbnails of images that are no longer hosted on the original site. Their servers have a lot of such broken links. I wonder if they use spiders to occasionally go back and validate these links. Such a check could only help Google: 1) their search results become more accurate and 2) they free up space that was used to store thumbnails that no longer go anywhere.

Re:Austrailia != Free Country (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42111059)

so if a newspaper posts a libelous article, and I hand copies of that newspaper out in the streets, am I committing libel as well?

now consider that what google is even less involved than that - google is essentially saying 'hey if you go over to that street corner you can get this newspaper'

Re:Austrailia != Free Country (1)

Sperbels (1008585) | about 2 years ago | (#42111203)

Not quite. If would be like telling anyone who asked that Milorad Trkulja is a gangster, go across the street and buy a paper to read more.

Re:Austrailia != Free Country (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42111483)

AGREED! Google does the indexing, Google does the archiving (cache, Usenet, blogs), Google's logic puts those at the top of the search results, Google is absolutely responsible and it's good the Australian court didn't let Google hide behind automated search results.

Re:Austrailia != Free Country (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42112093)

I have to agree with you unfortunately. The simple fact is that Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc have become FAR more than just a search engine, they "guess" and "calculate" results they think you want, they cache pages to display even if the page is offline, they merge many separate sources of information to build the "logic" that decides what should show up first, second, etc and by doing so take some responsibility for that information (how much should be left to the courts to decide).

It kind of reminds me of the "common carrier" (or whatever it was) where telco's can't be held responsible for what goes over the network since they don't interfere with anything going over the network. I grouped search engines under that same protection, but, the simple fact is that the search engines today are not just passing the data on anymore, they are doing analysis, planning revenue based returns and results, and making assumptions and predictions on what data people want to see; this is far beyond just returning a list of websites to a users simple request :(

Re:Austrailia != Free Country (5, Insightful)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | about 2 years ago | (#42111613)

Google should not be responsible for censoring any content any more than the government should be responsible for criminals using roads to haul stolen goods away.

Re:Austrailia != Free Country (1)

lgw (121541) | about 2 years ago | (#42111825)

If a troll decides to libel you all over the internet, the first thing you'll do will likely be to go to Google and kindly request that they strip out the results because, duh, it's libel.

Google has a form for this. You fill out the form, they remove the content. Easy. The guy in Oz filled out the form wrong and then sued when Google didnt magically do what he meant, instead of what he said.

Re:Austrailia != Free Country (1)

maz2331 (1104901) | about 2 years ago | (#42111929)

Seriously, when are US-based companies going to stop making themselves liable by having employees in foriegn countries? Just base everyone in the USA and employ local resellers for the ads. Problem solved.

Hmm if I lived in Australia (5, Funny)

Spy Handler (822350) | about 2 years ago | (#42110723)

can I sue Slashdot for libel? The bastards incorrectly put "Troll" and "Flamebait" next to my posts.

Re:Hmm if I lived in Australia (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42110791)

can I sue Slashdot for libel? The bastards incorrectly put "Troll" and "Flamebait" next to my posts.

You should have thought about that before eating those billy goats.

Re:Hmm if I lived in Australia (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42111113)

And dowsing yourself in gasoline.

Re:Hmm if I lived in Australia (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | about 2 years ago | (#42111239)

And dowsing yourself in gasoline.

I'd have thought it would be really, really uncomfortable to go dowsing in gasoline. And will a dowsing rod even work in gasoline?

And what, pray tell, are you dowsing yourself for? Cooties? Wouldn't the gasoline have already killed them?

Re:Hmm if I lived in Australia (2)

arkane1234 (457605) | about 2 years ago | (#42111869)

I'm going to assume you misunderstood what was meant by the word "dowsing". While technically it means what you're getting to, it's also a colloquialism used to mean "to drench" or just put alot of it on the object.

i.e. "I've been dowsed in water by my brother, who is in the pool!"

On to our regularly scheduled programs, now.

Re:Hmm if I lived in Australia (1)

Cimexus (1355033) | about 2 years ago | (#42110941)

If being a troll or flamer was actually a serious crime, of which you were being falsely accused, and the Slashdot page concerned came up as a top link when searching for your name, then maybe... :)

Re:Hmm if I lived in Australia (2)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | about 2 years ago | (#42111235)

You can sue anyone you like, but they'll only remove a comment if it's about Scientology.

Fuck Scientology. Clambake frauds...

Bit slow eh? (2)

stainlesssteelpat (905359) | about 2 years ago | (#42110745)

Re:Bit slow eh? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42110827)

wow /. is ahead of schedule.

They've used up all the Aussie stories. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42111455)

This is recycling. Slashdot is now all about cheerleading for Australia. No, I don't understand it either, but it's a fact.

Chilling (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42110759)

So, if you file a claim with Google -- probably not even under oath -- stating that certain content is libel, Google would then have to take down their links to the content, lest the Australian courts find that content to be libel and hold Google liable.

Which means that if you have access to the Australian courts, you can effectively cause Google to take down any website* without a trial, at little risk to yourself.

Good to know.

* Note: Anonymous Coward is not liable for damages incurred in the event that you attempt to take down a website owned by people with more money than you.

Re:Chilling (2)

Captain Sensible (141639) | about 2 years ago | (#42111507)

No. Australian courts, state or federal, do not claim jurisdiction outside Australia. Only web pages that affect Australians in Australia have the potential for defamation (local term - includes libel and slander by any media) and only Australian citizens or permanent residents may apply to the courts. The initial application would be for an injunction against the publisher (a take-down notice). It is not easy to get an injunction. A refusal to obey the injunction would lead to a civil case for defamation. Truth is a sufficient defence, but there is no First Ammendment protection (there is no Bill of Rights in Australia). A jury has to decide if the plaintif has been defamed but a judge alone hears the defence and decides any penalties, which would include penalties to a plaintiff if the publisher could provide a defence.

This is the second such case in Australia so there is precedence - quite robust in fact. Federal and state law treats web pages under the same rules as television broadcasts (yes....I agree....). Google would be considered a publisher since it presents the web page after a search. Untested as yet is the issue of linking to a page.

Re:Chilling (1)

loufoque (1400831) | about 2 years ago | (#42111841)

Defamation is not a local term, it's a normal English word.

A jury who doesn't understand the subject matter.. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42110787)

Clearly this isn't a case of Google doing anything wrong. It's a case of a judge or jury not understanding how the internet works.

Google doesn't own the content. Unless the individual wants to sue every search provider on the planet to get the results removed, he needs to go after the publisher/owner of the content, and not the search engine.

There are days that I hope the evil corporations are all destroyed in a revolution. There are other days that I think we are getting exactly what we deserve. Especially when 'educated' folks make decisions like this.

Re:A jury who doesn't understand the subject matte (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42110895)

Doesn't matter if they own the content or not. If you repeat a libel, prefacing it with the words "According to xyz..." doesn't remove your liability. No reason a seach engine should be treated differently.

Re:A jury who doesn't understand the subject matte (3, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | about 2 years ago | (#42111015)

There's a very good reason. Google is an index, not a publisher.

Little details matter both in computing and in law.

You can't just ignore them.

Perhaps the geezer on the bench would understand this if put in terms of an antique card catalog.

Re:A jury who doesn't understand the subject matte (5, Informative)

Cimexus (1355033) | about 2 years ago | (#42111311)

If you read the judgement (radical idea, I know), you'll see that a big part of the reason that Google was found liable here was the cached version of the article, as well as the Google Image Search results (which are a "page of Google's own making" not merely a link or reference to another source).

Indeed the judgement makes it quite clear that merely linking or indexing is not considered publication under Australian common law. Google themselves have been found not guilty in similar cases in Australia before, by relying on this defence. But this case was a bit different. There was the image search results, which Google must be assumed under the law to be the original publisher of (who else could be, given that the page is generated by Google and not exist anywhere else on the web?).

18 The question of whether or not Google Inc was a publisher is a matter of mixed fact and law. In my view, it was open to the jury to find the facts in this proceeding in such a way as to entitle the jury to conclude that Google Inc was a publisher even before it had any notice from anybody acting on behalf of the plaintiff. The jury were entitled to conclude that Google Inc intended to publish the material that its automated systems produced, because that was what they were designed to do upon a search request being typed into one of Google Inc’s search products. In that sense, Google Inc is like the newsagent that sells a newspaper containing a defamatory article. While there might be no specific intention to publish defamatory material, there is a relevant intention by the newsagent to publish the newspaper for the purposes of the law of defamation.

19 By parity of reasoning, those who operate libraries have sometimes been held to be publishers for the purposes of defamation law. That said, newsagents, librarians and the like usually avoid liability for defamation because of their ability to avail themselves of the defence of innocent dissemination (a defence which Google Inc was able to avail itself of for publications of the images matter prior to 11 October 2009, and all of the publications of the web matter that were the subject of this proceeding).

20 As was pointed out by counsel for the plaintiff in his address to the jury, the first page of the images matter (containing the photographs I have referred to and each named “Michael Trkulja” and each with a caption “melbournecrime”) was a page not published by any person other than Google Inc. It was a page of Google Inc’s creation – put together as a result of the Google Inc search engine working as it was intended to work by those who wrote the relevant computer programs. It was a cut and paste creation (if somewhat more sophisticated than one involving cutting word or phrases from a newspaper and gluing them onto a piece of paper). If Google Inc’s submission was to be accepted then, while this page might on one view be the natural and probable consequence of the material published on the source page from which it is derived, there would be no actual original publisher of this page.

Re:A jury who doesn't understand the subject matte (1)

DarkTempes (822722) | about 2 years ago | (#42111709)

How is Google Image Search results a "page of Google's own making" any more than any text+url index search result is?

Yes, they cache the images so that you can actually search them but none of the images are first published by Google or originate from Google.
Unless they mean "technically" the thumbnails which is complete bullshit and bogus (the thumbnails are completely analogous to the small context text blurb on text search).
Or maybe they mean the time it takes for Google's spider to find out that that the original images have been taken down and no longer exist and thus need to be removed?

Re:A jury who doesn't understand the subject matte (1)

Cimexus (1355033) | about 2 years ago | (#42112161)

Oh I agree, it's stupid. An effect of old law being applied to a new medium that it's not suited for.

The court's argument is simply that:

- A page of content has an 'original' publisher.
- The Google Image Search results page is generated by Google, and that page does not exist anywhere else on the web.
- Therefore, Google must be the publisher, simply because no-one else can be.

The issue as far as I can tell is that the concept of 'original publisher' doesn't work well in a world where 'publications' can be ~dynamically~ generated. The image search results is indeed a unique page that doesn't exist anywhere else, but it's really just an amalgamation of content from other sources, presented in a particular way...

Re:A jury who doesn't understand the subject matte (2)

loufoque (1400831) | about 2 years ago | (#42111861)

If caching is the same as publishing, proxy providers (some of which are ISP-provided) are in for some trouble.

Re:A jury who doesn't understand the subject matte (2)

Tom (822) | about 2 years ago | (#42111597)

There's a very good reason. Google is an index, not a publisher.

Not entirely. Google does re-publish excerpts of the sites it lists. If Google were a 100% pure index, your search results would look like this:

But Google does include parts of the result pages, and thus does re-publish content from elsewhere. They didn't create it, true. But neither does your radio station create most of the content it is publishing.

Re:A jury who doesn't understand the subject matte (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42111155)

Let me introduce you to Fox News as an example of just how completely wrong you are.

Re:A jury who doesn't understand the subject matte (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42110967)

Clearly this isn't a case of Google doing anything wrong. It's a case of a judge or jury not understanding how the internet works.

Google doesn't own the content.

Doesn't matter. To do business anywhere on Earth Google must follow the DMCA, and they often remove search results because of it. To operate in Australia they must follow Australian law. I don't agree with their crazy laws, but Google isn't being forced to do business there.

Re:A jury who doesn't understand the subject matte (1)

An Anonymous Coward (236011) | about 2 years ago | (#42111161)

Or maybe if you were the judge in this case, you'd side with the guy who according to Google has connections to the local mafia. Wouldn't want to wake up next to a proverbial horse's head.

Re:A jury who doesn't understand the subject matte (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 2 years ago | (#42111435)

However, Google does indeed make it available for others to see. Without Google, there would be no way for the man to be libeled. That's a colonialist point of view you have there. Maybe, just maybe, others might think differently from us, and realize that society is in a new era where old mindsets don't apply. There is no 'right' and 'wrong', just different points of view, all of them equally correct.

Aussie Judge needs his bank accounts audited... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42110805)

Cuz there's sumfin fishy down-under Loosieeeeeeee

Province is Provincial (4, Insightful)

mattr (78516) | about 2 years ago | (#42110809)

Google probably has the ability to deal with the problem, if it spent money to write some custom code or pattern matching rule. But it sounds like the judges don't understand the Internet or imagine Google could conceivably do the same thing times the number of people in the world who imagine something is libelous at some time in their lives. I don't get what was wrong with what Google told him to do. Is there no higher court in Australia? Or does Google maybe want to wait a while for the society to change in its favor before testing it.

Re:Province is Provincial (2)

Cimexus (1355033) | about 2 years ago | (#42111005)

Good post, and I agree, though should point out that this was a jury trial and so the jurors bear some of the responsibility as well here. I think it's a case of old law being applied to the letter, to a new medium to which it is unsuited. Not so much the judge not understanding the net - but at the end of the day they have to apply the law as it exists.

The Supreme Court is the highest court in Victoria, but if they can find a point of law to appeal on, Google could appeal to a Federal court (I.e. the High Court).

Re:Province is Provincial (1)

Tom (822) | about 2 years ago | (#42111515)

I don't get what was wrong with what Google told him to do.

They are supplying the information on their site, under their domain name. Sure, they are only re-publishing it from some other source, but they actually do publish it (and not just link to it - summaries and previews come to mind).

That's roughly comparable to a newspaper posting a letter-to-the-editors that is libel. They can be told to refrain from publishing it, even though they didn't write it themselves.

Re:Province is Provincial (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42111767)

Google totally has the ability to deal with this problem, they could turn off services in Australia until the decision is reversed.

Re:Province is Provincial (2)

Sir_Sri (199544) | about 2 years ago | (#42112149)

What isn't clear from the articles what is the sequence here. And sequence matters, a lot.

If a court ruled that the content was libelous and needs to be taken down *then* the person contacted google and asked them to remove the offending links, and they said no, then I see the sense in the ruling.

If the person requested they remove allegedly libelous content and they said no, talk to the content providers that's a different problem.

Google should be (isn't, but should be) and honest broker of information. They should have negotiated a situation where an australian court can submit a link to google with a judgment about a libelous statement made on that link. Search results would then bring up (in lieu of 'this might be a scam') this link has been ruled libelous by a court in australia (link to ruling) continue anyway?

If the person reposts the same content elsewhere, on a different link that is now a second case of libel. Which goes through the same process.

A court can basically demand google do whatever the hell it (the court) wants, and if google wants to stay in australia it is obliged to follow. The court needs to recognize that that power doesn't mean they get to abuse google for doing its job - which is supposed to be a neutral algorithm arbiter of information - and google needs to not be stupid about going along with what they should be reasonably expected to go along with from a court.

false claim (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42110811)

I wonder what the pinishment is to flood google with false claims. Also, is there a process to determine what is the truth.

Google will of course appeal and win (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42110829)

Linking to articles does not relay the message of the article.. Period... End of fucking discussion... Judge should just empty the barrel into their head. *(you can decide what's in the barrel - beer, oil, pond-scum, bullets, cyanide - take your pick)*

Re:Google will of course appeal and win (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 2 years ago | (#42110915)

But not before putting all links to Milorad Trkulja and all of his assets and associates on the Google search blacklist. Forever.

Re:Google will of course appeal and win (0)

pla (258480) | about 2 years ago | (#42111489)

But not before putting all links to Milorad Trkulja and all of his assets and associates on the Google search blacklist. Forever.

This. You want to sue Google to remove references to something vague involving you and a third party?

Google makes you vanish from the internet, forever and ever amen.

This asshat got his five minutes of Streisand fame by suing Google. Result? No one ever hears anything about him, ever again. Aspiring musician? Try "can't even get a job at Tesco because a Google search says you don't exist".

Don't fuck with Google.

Re:Google will of course appeal and win (1)

mk1004 (2488060) | about 2 years ago | (#42111033)

Exactly. By analogy, a vendor could be selling newspapers, kept behind a counter, where you could only read the headline for each article on the front page. To actually read the article, you'd have to buy the paper. Google is the vendor, allowing you to read an abstract of the linked page. In either case, just reading the headline/abstract and suing the vendor/search engine based on that is ridiculous.

Re:Google will of course appeal and win (1)

Cimexus (1355033) | about 2 years ago | (#42111351)

I would suggest you read the judgement, starting at paragraph 18. The judge specifically talks about the newsagent analogy, and why this is different.

Not that that makes the judgement sensible at all, but remember, the judge has to apply the law as it exists, not as he'd LIKE it to be.

outrageous (1)

genericmk (2767843) | about 2 years ago | (#42110835)

That's outrageous; it implies that a search engine is required to censor? That's exactly wrong.

Re:outrageous (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42110881)

And lawyers and big players in North America are going to be absolutely scrambling to attempt to get a precident like this set over here as well. This is a lawyer's cash cow just BEGGING to be milked.

Dupe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42110849)

little over 2 weeks old
http://tech.slashdot.org/story/12/11/13/000229/200000-judgement-against-google-in-mokbel-shots-case

Rediculous. (2)

kheldan (1460303) | about 2 years ago | (#42110859)

How can Google be responsible for content that it's just indexing and not generating themselves? The site owner and/or content owner are responsible for libelous statements. By their "logic", /. could also be held liable just for reporting on this!

Re:Rediculous. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42110937)

Yes, it is a very strange case.

If I was cynical I would think the Courts let the lawyers go after whom they had the best chance of collecting the money from.

But that is just too much of a stretch for me.

Re:Rediculous. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42110987)

> How can Google be responsible for content that it's just indexing and not generating themselves?

Because they've shown that they will take links down.
First it was "malware" and/or "phising" sites...
Then Scientology.
Then DMCA requests for linking to pirated whatever.

Sorry, but Google didn't have a defense for why they shouldnt take the links down when they've proven that they are willing to take other links down. It basically came down to "we'll do it for others, but we dont want to do it for this guy."

Re:Rediculous. (4, Informative)

Cimexus (1355033) | about 2 years ago | (#42111365)

Read the judgement. Of particular relevance, the paragraphs beginning with paragraph 18. If they WERE just linking, then it would not be publication and they would not have been found guilty. But in this case, they were generating content themselves (under the legal definition, at least...)

Trkulja in bed with kangaroo mob bosses (1)

WaffleMonster (969671) | about 2 years ago | (#42110981)

I am particularly amused by these types of decisions requiring a third party to correctly guess the outcome of legal matters they are not a party or face some form of liability either way for guessing wrongly.

Do they have book stores in Australia? Does this same abstraction of guilt work there too or just against huge companies with deep pockets?

What about networks thru which this data flows? Can network operators be found guilty for conspiracy to propogate libel? Where does it end and why?

I wish google would have dug up actual evidence supporting criminal affiliations against this asshat... I assume the truth is an absolute defense even in the Soviet Republic of Australia?

Re:Trkulja in bed with kangaroo mob bosses (1)

jaxxa (1580613) | about 2 years ago | (#42111115)

"What about networks thru which this data flows?" Shut up, Dont give them any ideas.

Re:Trkulja in bed with kangaroo mob bosses (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 2 years ago | (#42111255)

Soviet Republic of Australia

One poor decision does not invalidate the entire system. Google will either get this decision overturned or the industry itself will get the law changed, it may take a few years but this decision won't stand the test of time.

Re:Trkulja in bed with kangaroo mob bosses (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about 2 years ago | (#42111473)

I am not a lawyer:
Do they have book stores in Australia? Does this same abstraction of guilt work there too or just against huge companies with deep pockets?
Australian law is sort of based on UK law.
If you not in jail, have been to jail or lost a company you have control of... you are safe from slander.
The proof is on the person making the claims and can be taken to court.
As for ' Does this same abstraction of guilt work there too or just against huge companies with deep pockets?"
Most Australian authors know to stick to books on gardens, computers, romance, cars, travel, history, sci fi... the safe, soft topics.
Can network operators be found guilty for conspiracy to propogate libel?
If you published in Australia the person paying for the Australian 'site' would be in trouble. A court order might help remove the material from an Australian host.
So if you are enjoying the hard currency profits of running a company in Australia, understand our easy to follow laws :)
Where does it end and why?
The one case of interest was a book on Australia and it's role in the run up to the invasion of Iraq.
The chapter was found on a HD and the HD was smashed into small part after a raid.
One agency did not like the bad optics of the event and notes that on their site, it was not their hammer.
http://www.igis.gov.au/annual_report/05-06/year_in_review.cfm [igis.gov.au]
"I conducted a preliminary inquiry and was able to advise the complainant that ASIO had not been part of the so called “cleansing” activities."

I assume the truth is an absolute defense ... (1)

Sparrowhawk7 (1361853) | about 2 years ago | (#42111497)

"I assume the truth is an absolute defense even in the Soviet Republic of Australia" Whilst IANAL, my understanding for both libel & defamation that truth is NOT previously considered a valid defence everywhere. Truth (from http://www.thenewsmanual.net/Resources/medialaw_in_australia_02.html [thenewsmanual.net] ) Truth (which is also called justification) is probably the best defence. Formerly in some states (such as NSW, Queensland, Tasmania and the ACT) truth was only a defence if you could prove that a ‘public interest’ was served by publishing the defamatory words. This requirement has been dropped from the Uniform Defamation Law and now there is a defence if the defendant can prove that the defamatory imputations are substantially true.

Milorad Trkulja is a criminal? (-1, Flamebait)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | about 2 years ago | (#42111019)

Fuck you Judge David Beach.

Now sue me, you wombat fucking pervert.

Re:Milorad Trkulja is a criminal? (4, Funny)

Nyder (754090) | about 2 years ago | (#42111109)

Fuck you Judge David Beach.

Now sue me, you wombat fucking pervert.

The International Collation of Wombats are suing you for libel for comparing them to the Judge David Beach.

Re:Milorad Trkulja is a criminal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42111425)

I don't think he was calling him a wombat so much as describing his bedroom proclivities.

I do not believe or endorse his sentiment or opinion and am merely giving my own opinion on his statement. His view, beliefs or opinions expressed above are his and and his alone and do not reflect the views, beliefs or opinions of this anonymous coward.

even if we believe he meant that the judge was a wombat fucker.

Re:Milorad Trkulja is a criminal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42111257)

There's also a photo of Trkulja next to the poster of Mladic (a guy who is at trial in Hague war crimes court). Maybe he's proud of that one though.

Also Sue the Electric Company (1)

retroworks (652802) | about 2 years ago | (#42111051)

As they did not shut down the electricity at the offending site. And since they also power the monitors and light here where I read it, double damages.

Google Cache is why they were found guilty (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42111055)

It's not Google's link to the content but Google Cache repoducing and redistributing the 'libelous' content.

Re:Google Cache is why they were found guilty (1)

fibonacci8 (260615) | about 2 years ago | (#42111119)

Google should respond that they've dutifully hit F5, and the cache is now current.

Easy solution... (1)

jalind (149055) | about 2 years ago | (#42111057)

This has an easy solution. Since Australia holds Google responsible for any and all web site content for any and all websites their search engine indexes, disconnect all of Australia from Google. This court and jury decision makes about as much sense as jailing a person who makes a sign pointing the direction to China for all the human rights abuses that happen in China.

Re:Easy solution... (1)

erroneus (253617) | about 2 years ago | (#42111123)

I'm with you. I think Australia's business community would come together after being removed from Google for any amount of time and the government will have to rethink who is responsible for what speech.

Re:Easy solution... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42111641)

That would be a sensible plan, considering Google books $500 million revenue from australia yearly (ie google customers buying services like adwords), which its able to largely extract tax free.

I'd suggest you work on your ignorance by reading the judgement and the history of the case. The judgement is more than reasonable, as google has stepped well over the line with its image indexing features and become a publisher, not merely an indexer as a result.

All it would have had to do to avoid this was action the request to remove the content on a reasonably timely fashion.

A perfectly reasonable response would be... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42111145)

to remove all links to any content that refers to Mr. Trkulja and ALL ventures with which he is associated. Just CYA.

absolving themselves of responsibility... (1)

Mr. White (22990) | about 2 years ago | (#42111231)

Google knows that its business is going to get a lot harder if they actually have to take some responsibility for the information they disseminate.

They can't just cache everyone's content, scan it, link it - make billions of dollars off of it - and then tell someone else to shove it when they are asked not to distribute illegal content.

Re:absolving themselves of responsibility... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42111771)

Besides aggregated data on its users, Google and all other search providers do not distribute content. They simply make existing content easier to find.

Personally... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42111245)

Personally, I wouldn't pay it.
I own a company worth two damn Australias, if they don't damn like it, they don't have to use Google or any other engine that contained the same links.
This amounts to a shakedown by a money and power hungry bunch of inbred dolts that should've been replaced by Aborigines long ago, anyway.
It woudn't be a wise move to set a president for the internet based on the bullshit decrees of obviously insane attention whores like the Aussie Parliament.
We've watched them abuse their people over the internet since 14400 modems. Not impressed, putting them in their place by embarrassing them in front of the world, however would be minimum toll for this incredible waste of time, resources and bandwidth. No Google fiber for you limp wristed "Crocodile Dundee" killers. No, Google is for countries run by MEN, not some parlimentary wannabees who would blow a platypus for a chance to be in a REAL parliment of a REAL country, like England.
Yeah, whatta you gonna do now, cry about it?! F**king sissy's like you were gonna get a dime...
That's what I'd damn tell them.

Google should block Trkulja everywhere. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42111307)

Once the person's identity drops off the internet, and all the pages praising/mentioning him too.

Do me next (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42111381)

I wish someone would libel me.

Re:Do me next (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42111805)

Forever alone?

A view from down under... (1)

Nostromo21 (1947840) | about 2 years ago | (#42111579)

Our illustrious government & law-makers...fucking it up royally since 1838!
God save the Queen & all of us lol !!! :)))

I can has metaphor? (1)

mpgalvin (207975) | about 2 years ago | (#42111757)

Problem: Some jerk publishes a book that libels me.
Solution: Sue the library!

Derp.

Whos Milorad Trkulja? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42111917)

If google has anything to do with it after this judgement no one who searches for Milorad Trkulja on google will know either.

Correct Decision (2)

sexconker (1179573) | about 2 years ago | (#42111999)

Once Google started manually fucking with the results and rankings, they became responsible for the content as they were no longer simply a passive repository.

Republik of Victoria (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42112067)

You know us Sydney-siders call them the People's Democratic Republic of Victoria for a reason....

Aussies (1)

troll -1 (956834) | about 2 years ago | (#42112191)

The reason the internet revolution did not originate in Australia.
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