Google's Legal Responsibility Concerning Defamatory Content It Crawls

from the whose-fault? dept

Someone from domain registrar dotWORLDS submitted their own press release about how they're filing a lawsuit against Google for defamation and slander -- but looking over the details, you have to question dotWORLDS' legal standing here. The actual complaint isn't entirely clear -- and even the company admits in the press release that its own legal standing is shaky, at best. The complaint is that Google somehow "refuses to address libel" on its website -- but that's not quite true. Google is simply a search engine. If another site is posting libelous information, then that site can be sued. It's not Google's fault for finding the page. It is true that the original page was removed and remained in Google's index for some time, but that's a function of how search engines work, and hardly seems likely to make Google liable. At the same time, as if to reinforce the ridiculousness of the suit, the company admits that if it wins, it could mean Google (and, we presume, every other search engine) would need to scrutinize every website that goes into its index. So far, the law is pretty clear that service providers aren't liable for any third party content that goes into their platform -- so it's unlikely that Google has any responsibility, no matter how much this company might wish it were so.

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  • identicon
    Eric Aitala, 21 Dec 2005 @ 2:40pm

    Caching

    The real problem is getting search engines to remove cached information. I have had to do this because of things like SSNs. Try finding anything more than an email address to contact for most search sites. Finding a real live person who can do anything is impossible.

    And then it takes days, if not weeks, for the material to be removed.

    EMA

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

  • identicon
    Rikko, 21 Dec 2005 @ 2:41pm

    Talk about looking a gift horse in the mouth

    Does the company realize that without Google they almost certainly wouldn't have found out about the offending pages?

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

  • identicon
    Sohrab, 21 Dec 2005 @ 3:02pm

    No Subject Given

    I wonder if its just google showing these up or does Yahoo or MSN also post them or others like Altavista and Askejeeves.

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

  • identicon
    Jean, 22 Dec 2005 @ 6:30am

    Google & Defamation

    You repeat the Google mantra invented by their CEO. However, after that CNet journalist Google-ed their CEO and presented findings in an article, Google went nuts.
    And let's not forget that Google not only "organizes information that's already out there" - they also archive it in their cache. So some Web site may have a link to this defaming content stored in Google cache, which is as defaming as is the original content posted on the defaming site (which Google scanned and cached).

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

  • identicon
    dotWORLDS, 23 Dec 2005 @ 7:22am

    Google - dotWORLDS Libel Claim

    Dear Mike
    May we add a short note to your comments
    It is a fact that following dotWORLDS defamation complaint, Google began withdrawing several links from its Search Engine. Although this process has taken and is taking an inordinate amount of time, we calculate that something like 1500 separate items have now been deleted from their records. (You can even see some of Google's own notes to this effect, published on their websites referring users to ChillingEffects.org)
    Whilst we take on board your comments, we believe that this is not the end of the story (we cannot go into more detail at this time). Furthermore, it seems that the rules are quietly being tightened as more and more attention is drawn to the problem - eg the recent matter relating to Seigenthaler and Wikipedia.
    Of course it is impossible to confront the author of an anonymous posting if you do not know who he/she/it is. So what would happen if someone, unsigned, were to libel you on the Internet claiming you to be a thief and a criminal. Google could have that “information” published on its website almost immediately and it could remain there for the next 30 years. Would you settle for no right of redress?
    Yes, there are easier jobs than taking on Google, but all that we have ever asked of them is that they kindly finish the job that they already started.
    We are still asking them
    Regards
    dotWORLDS

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

    • identicon
      WrongSolution, 3 Jul 2007 @ 3:32pm

      Sue The Libelist Not A Search Tool

      It is not Google's fault that anonymity exists. The bottom line is that Google did NOT make libelist statements against you and you are wrong to sue them. If it is that important to you, get a court order for the logs of the website and sue the libelist. Otherwise suck it up - remember that if it is libel it means it is not true, and truth ultimately wins.

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

    • identicon
      Tim, 5 Jul 2007 @ 2:57pm

      Re: Google - dotWORLDS Libel Claim

      That's like sueing Wal-Mart because they don't clean the marker off the bathroom stalls that say "for a good time call Brittany xxx-xxx-xxxx."

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

  • identicon
    Eric Aitala, 15 Jun 2006 @ 9:03am

    Yes, yahoo has the same problem - actually they are probably more difficult to get hold of than Google.

    Eric

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

  • identicon
    Overcast, 3 Jul 2007 @ 3:29pm

    lol,

    Then they are equally guilty.

    If you check their main page in the source, you'll find a link to www.statcounter.com in the code - at the very end.

    Well, if you go to statcounter.com - they have google ads - linking back to google. So from the 'linking' perpective, they are - themselves linking back to google, by proxy.

    That - and check their 'FAQ' - I found this.

    Will my domain name appear on Google?

    We are currently setting up a system for spidering these sites on Google. Users will be advised when the system is ready by a newsletter.

    Keep your e-mail of registrations always working to receive the dotWORLDS newsletter. top


    If that's not lame - I'm not sure what is.

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

  • identicon
    Overcast, 3 Jul 2007 @ 3:30pm

    Actually, you can kick my butt for not reading it all - sorry :O

    Just ignore my above rambling - ok, see your point ;)

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

  • identicon
    Scott, 5 Jul 2007 @ 1:10pm

    The precedent has already been set…

    A few years ago I purchased a house, my first foray into being a homeowner. As it turns out, a man that had owned the house about ten years prior had robbed a bank and fled the country.

    One day I had a knock at the door, when I answered it I found the local sheriff at my door waiting to handcuff me. Turns out that they didn't think they would ever actually catch the man, but they did know that he had once lived at my address. They got to punish someone I guess. I should be out of jail by the time I'm 75, but I guess that's just how this stuff works.

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

  • identicon
    stephen mcdermott, 5 Jul 2007 @ 1:56pm

    dorks.

    I think the REAL solution for Google would be to just remove you from EVERY DAMN REFERENCE on their search engine that leads to you. You would come begging them to put you back on.
    Sue the ones that are the problem, not just the one that have the money and will get your name in the news.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous, 5 Jul 2007 @ 4:23pm

    dotworlds sucks. End of story.

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

  • identicon
    JT Thibault, 5 Jul 2007 @ 4:39pm

    Stephen has the right idea

    Ensure that google return zero results if the query contains dotworlds, and see if at the end of the day, you feel like your little ploy was worth it.

    Page hits: 6 (all from *.dotworlds.com)

    :(!

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

  • identicon
    dggriffi, 5 Jul 2007 @ 6:19pm

    dotworld is full of the lowest forms

    I say openly and outwardly that dotworld is a bag of monkeys. Maybe you should sue a library that has a book in it that you dont like. If your thinking thats a good idea, thats the signal that your stupid.

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


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