Italian Judge Declines To Dismiss Lawsuit Charging Google Execs As Criminals For YouTube Video

from the bad-law dept

The judge in Italy hearing the ridiculous case charging Google executives with criminal charges (which could lead to jail time) because of a video uploaded to YouTube, has declined to dismiss the case, and will allow it to proceed. The lawsuit is ridiculous on many levels, and it's difficult to see any common sense explanation for why it should be allowed to proceed.

The case involves a video of some kids taunting a boy with Down syndrome, which was uploaded to YouTube. The very fact that it was uploaded to YouTube actually allowed the kids in question to get caught and punished appropriately for their actions. In other words, by any reasonable thought process, the video helped bring these kids to justice. YouTube and Google should be thanked. Instead, Italian authorities are trying to put five of their execs in jail for this. Those execs had nothing to do with the making of the video. They had nothing to do with the uploading of the video. Most of the execs being charged aren't even in Italy. They had nothing at all to do with any of this. Not only that, but Google appears to have acted quite admirably in this situation. Once they were alerted to the video, they had it pulled down off the site within hours.

But, one of the lawyers working on the case against Google states: "The outcome of this will be to determine how big companies like Google should be expected to act." What's unclear is how Google could have acted in any more reasonable a manner than what it did. The reality may be that the outcome of the case will determine whether any service provider will allow their services to be used in Italy. After seeing this case, I would imagine that many online service providers are now considering blocking access to all Italian ISPs. The liability (possible jail time?!?) is way too high for simply allowing people in Italy to use your service.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2009 @ 6:04am

    extradition?

    If tried and convicted in abstentia, it will be interesting to see how the present extradition treaty is implemented.
    Can a person be extradited from a country in which the charge/conviction is not considered illegal?

     

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  2.  
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    Mechano, Feb 19th, 2009 @ 6:09am

    Re: extradition?

    I think extradition is usually only applicable for "common law" crimes, like murder,terrorism and child abuse. Something like this wouldnt fall under such serious categories.

    And even if it did, the United States could just refuse the request.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Emanuele Cipolla, Feb 19th, 2009 @ 6:15am

    Conflicting behaviours

    Here in Italy, at the moment, some people are messing about the ways you should be prosecuted using telecommunication evidences. Our government is willing to back Senator D'Alia proposal about site shutdowns if it publish content inciting visitors not to abide by the law (http://tinyurl.com/dalia-amendment, Italian only, sorry), while at the same time is trying to forbide the use of lawful telephone interceptions in trials. The declination by that judge to dismiss these charges is only another hint at the confusion nearly every people in charge of something in Italy have about this field (and it would be relieving if it was only this one: unfortunately, things are getting worse in several others).

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2009 @ 6:19am

    Re: extradition?

    Online Gambling is legal in Europe yet company executives have been charged in the USA.

    The Pirate Bay isn't illegal in Sweden yet the site operators have been charged in the USA.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2009 @ 6:27am

    Re: Re: extradition?

    Good Points, and it will be interesting to see how these situations are handled.

    Country A: I'll give you two IP Pirates for your one gambling exec.

    Country B: Ok, but we will need not only the pirates but also their URL, computers and payment for their theft.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2009 @ 6:51am

    Moments like these I wonder why god doesn't just end it already, seriously what the fuck happened to the world.

     

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  7.  
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    Nelson Cruz, Feb 19th, 2009 @ 7:15am

    Great of business in Italy... NOT!

    If the google execs are convicted, the criminal liability bar will be set so low that I expect no foreign business man will want to step foot in Italy from now on. Even the fact that one exec was arrested and prosecuted is troubling enough. Anyone who is involved with any company supplying services or products potentially used for criminal actions, or even just to publicize them(!!!), could be liable. This would be laughable if it wasn't so serious.

    If the Italian laws permit this, I'm surprised Italian prosecutors haven't arrested the entire Vatican for employing, concealing and protecting sex offenders (as well as harassing and threatening victims).

    If only a few million people believed Larry Page or Sergey Brin where sons of god...

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Nelson Cruz, Feb 19th, 2009 @ 7:16am

    Re: Great of business in Italy... NOT!

    I meant the subject to be "Great for business in Italy... NOT". :(

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2009 @ 7:38am

    @Nelson:
    The Vatican is a separate, independent country, so Italian law doesn't apply:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vatican

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2009 @ 7:42am

    Crazy?

    Seriously.

    3 years of jail time and a possible 320,000 fine per person?

    Are the people who actually committed the act in jail and being fined 320k?

    I think all that cocaine is finally getting to the Italians...


    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/article551797.ece


    :)

     

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  11.  
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    NullOp, Feb 19th, 2009 @ 7:55am

    Google/YouTube

    Lawyers are the scum of the earth....unless they happen to be working for you. Then they are angels!

    First, we are discussing Italian law not American. So by some twist Google could actually be responsible here, somehow, someway. I consider it doubtful. The fact that the upload CAUSED the kids to get caught should be enough to satisfy any countries laws regarding this sort of thing. But, the judges hands might have been tied by the law. I think it is clear the right thing to do was to dismiss.

    Eventually we'll all be too 'scared' of litigation to do any thing at all. Someone 'might' bring suit or be 'offended.' Sad world indeed....

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Simon, Feb 19th, 2009 @ 7:57am

    Vatican

    @ @Nelson
    I don't believe the US is part of Italy either

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Nelson Cruz, Feb 19th, 2009 @ 8:13am

    Re:

    @Anonymous Coward
    I know the Vatican is an independent country. And so is the USA where Google operates! The Italian authorities are prosecuting people that don't reside or work in Italy, and that are employees of an american company. How can italian law possibly apply defies all reason.

    But if it applies to google, it must apply even more to the Vatican, which although technically being a sovereign nation is located inside Rome. I wonder who investigates, prosecutes, etc, if a murder happens inside the Vatican...

    The Pope and the Cardinals could easily be charged with criminal offenses and arrested whenever they leave the Vatican and enter Italian territory (like the google exec). The problem would be diplomatic immunity. But if italian authorities are this insane, well...

    (Hmmm... i'm starting to wonder if they would prosecute a Portuguese citizen for defamation using an american blog... better shut up now...)

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2009 @ 8:14am

    If I were Google, I would immediately cut off all access to Italian ISPs; in fact, all platform providers should do the same thing. Have their sites redirect to a page that explains why the "boycott" is up. I'd imagine that that judge would become rather unpopular rather quickly.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Even More Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2009 @ 8:18am

    Re:

    That's true, but The US is a separate, independent country as well. So you've actually bolstered the initial argument by showing how closely it falls in line with this case.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Ivan, Feb 19th, 2009 @ 9:11am

    Cut off Italy!

    If I were Google I would cut off Italy from not only Youtube, but from Google.com. See how their citizens feel about their government trying to punish a service that helped catch these idiots.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Bobi, Feb 19th, 2009 @ 9:35am

    "Italian law"? LOL, do they actually have "law" there? It's the most corrupt and screwed up govt in Europe, if not the world. This is clearly to benefit some local media business in Italy for sure.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Grant, Feb 19th, 2009 @ 9:54am

    Why even bother have a "terms of service" agreement?

    I'm not a lawyer but after reading through the Terms of Service for YouTube, doesn't this sum things up?

    ============================================================
    YOU SPECIFICALLY ACKNOWLEDGE THAT YOUTUBE SHALL NOT BE LIABLE FOR USER SUBMISSIONS OR THE DEFAMATORY, OFFENSIVE, OR ILLEGAL CONDUCT OF ANY THIRD PARTY AND THAT THE RISK OF HARM OR DAMAGE FROM THE FOREGOING RESTS ENTIRELY WITH YOU.

    The Website is controlled and offered by YouTube from its facilities in the United States of America. YouTube makes no representations that the YouTube Website is appropriate or available for use in other locations. Those who access or use the YouTube Website from other jurisdictions do so at their own volition and are responsible for compliance with local law.
    ============================================================

    This was copied and pasted directly from http://www.youtube.com/t/terms?hl=en_US

    From what I've read, Google acted responsibly, ethically and legally within the guidelines of its service statement. "Don't shoot the messenger" as the old saying goes, prosecute those who actually commit the crime!

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Palmyra, Feb 19th, 2009 @ 10:05am

    My Grandfather

    I remember sitting at the table with my grandfather, aunts and uncles for Sunday dinner decades ago. Grandpa and the others were speaking Italian. They all broke out in a big laugh at one point. On the way home I asked my dad what had been so funny. He told me that grandpa said that the stupid stayed in Italy and the smart came to America. Being 7 at the time I had no idea what he meant. Being 61, I can see what he meant. God rest you Daddy and Grandpa!

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Grae, Feb 19th, 2009 @ 10:07am

    Re: welcom to rolexeta

    Can we get this spam nuked, please?

     

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

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2009 @ 10:20am

    Simple solution

    Google just needs to modify their .htaccess file to block anyone from the Italy ip block from accessing their systems, starting RIGHT NOW.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2009 @ 10:32am

    Re: welcom to rolexeta

    Wow some poor quality rip-offs. Nice.

     

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

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2009 @ 10:35am

    Re: Vatican

    Ahmmm ... You completely missed his point.

     

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

  24.  
    identicon
    Fushta, Feb 19th, 2009 @ 10:45am

    Italian Law: Everybody is Guilty

    If you remember the death of legendary Brazilian race car driver Ayrton Senna. He tragically died in an F1 race at the Imola race track in San Marino, Italy in 1994. Here is the video (not graphic).

    The trial began in 1997 (story here). The managers of the Williams racing team were being tried for manslaughter due to an alleged faulty weld in the steering column. Basically, everyone is guilty until the Italian courts figure it all out.

    There is more to the story, and they were found not guilty, but the overall trial took several years to resolve.

     

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

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2009 @ 11:16am

    Re: Why even bother have a "terms of service" agreement?

    That is just a contract - it doesn't trump the law.

     

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

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2009 @ 11:29am

    Re:

    Really, come on.

    Would you rather be debating this or have the RIAA army show up to your town and level it.

    Things are much better than in the past.

     

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

  27.  
    identicon
    Thamios, Feb 19th, 2009 @ 11:34am

    Let's not forget the fact of how much money things like this cost.

    It's times like this I'm glad I'm in the US. I mean, I thought people in public service could be stupid over HERE!

     

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

  28.  
    identicon
    cococo, Mar 6th, 2009 @ 5:15pm

    Re: Cut off Italy!

    That would be unhelpfull.
    They control people through tv and news.
    Berlusconi is both the "Presidente del Consiglio" and owner of all main informations channels (tv, newspapers..)
    He is also gonna block internet with a new law, the D'Alia anti-internet law which is coming out in these days.

    They control people through tv and news. The only help can come from outside. And thats what people from italy prays for.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Candace Clemens, Feb 28th, 2010 @ 11:47am

    Italy vs. Google/YouTube

    I agree that the video helped catch the bad kids AND helps our society to address the whole issue of "unacceptable behavior." If not posted publicly, this video would still exist and all who "enjoy" watching -- let alone DOING -- this behavior would go unpunished.

    The action of Google -- to remove offensive material -- is all we can expect from a free service such as YouTube. I think the U.S. isn't the only country in need of some serious tort reform.

     

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


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