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
    John, 5 Jul 2007 @ 7:25pm

    google's ass

    Unfortunately for Google's ass there is president against them in the form of Napster v. RIAA. In Nap v RIAA the RIAA lawyers successfully argued that while Napster itself wasn't braking any laws directly it was in fact being an enabler and in that breaking the law. Because they allowed this content to be spread from person to person. In that case Napster claimed to be only a search tool. As we all know, they lost. In this case it is possible to come after google and say that this is content that only a tool such as google would enable the person to find. And if the material is copy write, then google could potentially be found to be at fault. This is backed up by the recent, about a year ago, supreme court case that over turned Sony v Beta Max. The new high court ruling holds the enabling technology responsible for the use of that technology. But of course there is a catch.

    In both court cases the technology in question was primarily being used for the search and transfer of copy write material. Google in this case will, most likely successfully , argue that because the primary use of their service is not the distribution of copy write material that in fact they are exempt from these rulings. If the plaintiff cannot show a majority use of Google to transfer protected documents then the law suite will be dropped. The reason that this is the most likely outcome is because this one site, and thus copy write material from this plaintiff, only represent a tiny tiny fraction of Google's overall searches. In the other court cases the RIAA represented a majority of the material being transfered via those mediums. A united front and more expensive lawyers make all the difference.

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