Italy Moves Forward With Plan To Prosecute Google Execs Over Online Video

from the bad,-bad-precedent dept

Earlier this year, we were somewhat stunned that prosecutors in Italy would be charging four Google execs with criminal charges, because some kids had posted a video of themselves taunting a boy with Down Syndrome on Google's Italian video hosting site. The execs in question obviously had absolutely nothing to do with the video. The kids who filmed and uploaded the video have been charged separately, and it makes absolutely no sense to then charge executives at the company that provided the tool. Why is Italy not also charging the executives of the company who made the mobile phone that was used to film the video? Or the executives of the ISP that was used to upload the video? Or the administrators of the school where the video was filmed? Any of those would make just as much sense as suing Google execs.

We had hoped that, perhaps, an inkling of common sense would come into the proceedings, but instead, it appears that the Italian prosecutor is moving forward and demanding the execs appear in court for a trial starting early next year. If this moves forward, it sets a horrible precedent, effectively allowing prosecutors to blame just about anyone who is tangentially connected to a crime. It's a travesty of justice, and the Italian justice system should be ashamed that it's even gotten this far.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2008 @ 7:52am

    Why on Earth do the Italians think the Executives would even consider going over there to stand trial. There's no way that the American government would grand extradition.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), Nov 7th, 2008 @ 8:07am

    The Italians often have a strange way of doing things - there are often things that happen there and in France that have the rest of the EU scratching their heads. This is another by the looks of things.

    It will, of course, achieve nothing. It's so stupid that it's doubtful that the execs named (assuming they're US-based) will even grace the country for the "trial". If a default judgement is made and the execs found "guilty", it will stifle communications development in Italy and make multinationals think twice about doing business there at all.

    Plus, in the greatest irony, it's unlikely that the crime would ever have come to light if it *hadn't* been uploaded to Google. It's idiotic, wasteful and harmful action.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2008 @ 8:30am

    Prosecute the prosecutors, seems to look like they have more to do with this case than Google does.........MORONS!!!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Chad Allard, Nov 7th, 2008 @ 8:36am

    I think of it this way... someone gets shot and killed by a gun, who do the family of the deceased sue after the criminal is put away? The gun manufacturer of course.

    What does this have to do with this situation? Well now that the criminals have been charged, who's left to sue but the manufacturer of the video site.

    In all honesty, I think they're grasping at straws with that one knowing very well that if they do proceed with this, Google may settle (which I guess is what they're hoping) which would get them quite a pretty penny.

    Do they have a case? eh... hard to say... should a video hosting site be held responsible for the content posted? I suppose it depends on their terms of service and the action they take towards content like that. I know that on any individual's PERSONAL website, they are generally held responsible for the content whether they posted it or not.

    Also, don't laugh at this too quickly. Look at all the torrent hosting sites out there. They may not have posted the content themselves, but more often than not they face legal reprimand for simply hosting the content. Is this situation so different?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2008 @ 8:47am

    Re:

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but for your personal website example, isn't it the person who manages the website's problem, and not the host's? This is the same thing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2008 @ 8:59am

    Re: Re:

    huge difference - the owners of techdirt post the content and take responsibility for it, not the users. In the Italian case, google does not post or condone the content - the users do.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Ima Fish, Nov 7th, 2008 @ 9:07am

    Why stop at charging the executives of the company who made the mobile phone? How about all the companies that built the components that made up the phone? And what about all the patent holders? How about the workers who laid the networking infrastructure that the internet is build on? What about the clothing manufacture that created the clothes the kids wore, allowing them to go outside in the first place? Heck, why not charge kids' parents for giving birth to them and setting this whole criminal activity into motion? And what about the grand parents? Why should they get off scott-free?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Sean, Nov 7th, 2008 @ 9:10am

    Different justice systems...

    I think there's a bit of misunderstanding here. The system in Italy is that a judge investigates a complaint (in this case, by the kids father and also from a charity for Downs Syndrome kids) and decides if there's a case to answer.

    Clearly, in this case, the judge has decided that there is, and as such, has ordered the relevant people to appear in court where another judge (or a panel of them) will hear the case and decide the verdict.

    The law in Italy is pretty strong on personal privacy, largely because the politicians don't want their dirt getting a public airing.

    However AFAIK the EU regulations on this issue take precedence, but that's gonna be for the judges to decide when the case is heard.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Voice Of Reason, Nov 7th, 2008 @ 9:10am

    It makes perfect sense to sue Google, but not the mobile phone companies, because YouTube is a weapon of mass transmission.

    While the video is on the phone only, those nasty kids can only share this with only a few friends at a time. YouTube humiliates that poor kid in front of the whole world. That's a huge difference.

    It's not rocket science, is it?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2008 @ 9:16am

    Re:

    Well written, PaulT. Thank you.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2008 @ 9:18am

    Sue the state!

    Sue the state that allowed for this to happen

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Headbhang, Nov 7th, 2008 @ 9:23am

    Re:

    But it's the phone that even made it possible! Without the fun, there wouldn't be anything to share and perhaps even the kids wouldn't have bothered to taunt the other poor one, because it seems they were all about the attention.

    The camera phone manufacturers are just as guilty as the Google execs, that is, not at all.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2008 @ 9:24am

    Re: Re:

    Err... fun => phone. Although it also makes some odd sense that way :P

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    EdT, Nov 7th, 2008 @ 9:40am

    system of jurisprudence

    as if this doesn't happen in the US... get real Techdirt, it's the system... suing someone is 2nd biggest indoor sport.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    boost, Nov 7th, 2008 @ 9:44am

    just leave italy

    I wonder how much of google's revenues are generated because of Italy because If I were google, I might just cut off all of my services to Italy as a statement to the government to leave my company alone.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Greasy Guido, Nov 7th, 2008 @ 9:45am

    Hey Paisanos,

    My name is Alfredo, and I'll eat pasta with every single one of you. All of you are machisimo, panzerelli, meatballs who spend every second of their day looking at pictures of pizza. You are everything prego in the world. Honestly, have any of you ever gotten any breadsticks? I mean, I guess it's fun making frozen pizza because of your own inabilities to cook a spicy meatball, but you all take to a pasta fasul. This is even worse than baking a cannoli.

    Don't be a Greek. Just hit me with your best red sauce. I'm pretty much perfect. I was captain of Bertuccis, and head chef at the finest Italian restaurant in New York. What kitchens do you work in, other than "McDonald's"? I also get straight pasta, and have a banging hot pizza oven (It just finished baking pasta shells; Shit was SO flavorful). You are all paisanos who should just go eat Mexican food. Thanks for listening.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2008 @ 9:50am

    Shouldn't Google be commended for bringing light to this crummy crime? Isn't this helping get the criminals punished?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Ohdog, Nov 7th, 2008 @ 10:14am

    Italian Justice?

    Italian Justice system has been systematically debased under Berlusconi's once and future reign. Don't expect reason in the near future.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Elliot Thornton, Nov 7th, 2008 @ 10:21am

    The Need for a Low Threshold

    Any country with a history of political interference in the judicial system and/or problems with organised crime needs to allow trials to proceed when only minimal requirements have been met. Poland has been annoying the rest of the European Union, by making extradition requests for the most trivial of reasons. If someone makes an accusation of a crime in Poland, this will almost always lead to a trial. There is little by way of a reasonableness or public-interest test. After decades under communism, allowing the little guy to get the big guy into court is probably a big deal. Similarly, you wouldn’t want the Italian people feeling that Google could never be brought to book because Larry and Sergey were mates with Silvio Berlusconi. As to why no-one else is to be charged: Did Vividown or the boy’s father accuse anyone besides Google?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    John Doe, Nov 7th, 2008 @ 10:29am

    Lawsuits are the number 1 enemy of corporations today. We sue Budweiser when someone gets drunk and kills someone with their car. We sue Smith & Wesson when someone shoots another person with a S&W. We try to hold inanimate objects responsible rather than the actual person responsible. Liability insurance will be the death of many a company and maybe even an industry as a whole one day.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Ima Fish, Nov 7th, 2008 @ 10:32am

    Re: system of jurisprudence

    "suing someone is 2nd biggest indoor sport."

    This is a criminal charge, not a civil lawsuit.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    J. Cormier, Nov 7th, 2008 @ 10:55am

    Re:

    The difference between gun makers and Google is that the actual crime (the taunting) did not involve the use of Google's site. A murder with a gun involves the use of a gun manufacturers's product in the actual commission of the crime.

    Now if uploading a video of a crime is a crime, that's a different story.

    One has to wonder why they think they have a case.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    icon
    Rob (profile), Nov 7th, 2008 @ 11:20am

    This right here...

    is why the global economy and multiculturalism is doomed to fail. If it is even possible to have a court demand these executives show up, then it is going to end up (one day) our internet vs. their internet.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    icon
    Rob (profile), Nov 7th, 2008 @ 11:23am

    Re: Re: J. Cormier

    J, if someone were to beat another person to death with a Samsung phone or monitor, should the company be held responsible?

    If it was not for them, the instrument of death would have never existed, and I'm fairly certain an old CRT could do plenty of damage. Even if it wasn't "original intent," most weapons aren't manufactured with preemptive strikes in mind, more self defense.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Jim, Nov 7th, 2008 @ 12:03pm

    They should thank Goggle

    They should be thanking Goggle, if it wasn't for the site they might never have known about the incident.

    I think prosecutors the world over have become so ambitious to the point that they are hurting society. Especially when you consider that an accusation of a crime is almost as bad as actually committing a crime, due to the fact that news can now travel the world over in mere hours.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2008 @ 12:34pm

    Considering that a girl who wears jeans in Italy cannot claim that she's been raped, this really doesn't surprise me.

    (It's thought that the jeans are too tight for a rapist to remove without her help)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This