Company Continues To Insist That Google Is Responsible For Libel On Any Site It Links To

from the sorry,-but,-no dept

Can a day go by without a story about a ridiculous lawsuit against Google? The latest is really more of an update of a case we wrote about a few years ago, where the company Dotworlds sent us their own press release, claiming that they were suing Google for linking to sites that contained libel (according to Dotworlds) against it. That, of course, was ridiculous, since Google is not the responsible party at all, and simply provides a search engine. We pointed that out in our post about it, and the folks from Dotworlds responded using an emotional, rather than legal, argument basically saying that it's too much work to figure out who was actually responsible, so why shouldn't they take the easy path and sue Google? The company is apparently now suing Google in the UK, since the UK's libel laws are a lot stricter. So it's entirely possible that a judge will find that Google somehow is liable for the content on others' pages. The head of Dotworlds claims that Google is liable here because he's informed it of the libelous statements -- but that doesn't change the simple fact that Google is not the one publishing those statements. Blaming Google for finding libelous statements is blaming the tool, not whoever is actually responsible. It may be easier, but that doesn't mean it's right.

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  1. identicon
    lyndon hood, 5 Jul 2007 @ 3:04pm

    Defamation, UK style

    This is stupid and sucks but, as you say, it's possible the judge may find them liable.

    It's like this - if it's defamatory to say "blah", then it's also defamatory to say "so-and-so says blah". In practical terms it's like repeating the assertion. That's effectively what google does with its index (provided the index results contain some of the claims), and having been informed of it - or at least of some particular instance of it - they're responsible for its continued presence.

    For it to be defamatory, the assertions would have to be false, damaging and on matters of fact. At least that's the way it would work (here) in New Zealand, where they system is much the same. The damages in this instance might no be too much to worry about, though.

    Remember Google has been know to fear the lawyers in the past, at least as far as scientology is concerned.

    But yeah, thanks to this suit the only thing i know about dotworlds is that they're dicks.

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