Researcher Headed To Australian Supreme Court In Attempt To Hold Google Responsible For Posts At Ripoff Reports [Updated]

from the six-degrees-of-imagined-search-engine-liability dept

If you want to know how misguided this lawsuit it, just read the subheadline:

IN a South Australian-first, internet giant Google is being sued by an Adelaide academic who claims she has been defamed by a US-based website it links to.
Do you see the problem here? Health researcher Janice Duffy is obviously intelligent, but she's been trying to hold Google responsible for Ripoff Report's actions for nearly six years now, draining what's left of her savings and leaving her to crowdfund her self-represented last stand against Google in the South Australian Supreme Court.

What she claims has happened as a result of the allegedly defamatory posts at Ripoff Reports is genuinely awful.
Dr Duffy said she had been unemployed since she was forced to leave her SA Health position in 2010 after her colleagues learnt of the false claims about her on the website, and she believed she had not been able to find work since because of it.

She said that she had since suffered intense depression and often contemplated suicide because of the situation, but was determined to have Google remove the links and seek compensation through the court action.
But her assertions take a turn for the quixotic when she mentions other options considered and discarded.
Dr Duffy said the website [Ripoff Report] charges people up to $10,000 per page to remove offending material, but she could not afford this as she had spent all of her savings and superannuation fighting Google in court.
I would never encourage someone to cave to borderline extortionate demands -- and Ripoff Reports is far from the paragon of online virtue -- but if she had the money at her disposal and spent it all targeting the company that returns search results, rather than the company hosting the material or, better yet, the person who wrote the posts, it's tough to be wholly sympathetic. [UPDATE: In contradiction to her own statements to the Adelaide Advertiser, Dr. Duffy claims to have attempted to pay Ripoff Report to remove the posts.]

But she's going to keep fighting, sunk cost fallacy be damned. What little she does have going for her in this quest to make Google pay for its refusal to delist allegedly defamatory content without a court order is her native country's rather dubious court decisions and the lack of Section 230-esque protections, which brings the prospect of winning within the realm of imagination.

On her personal blog, she posits this rhetorical question:
I still cannot figure out why Google would pay three law firms, two barristers and a QC literally hundreds of thousands of dollars rather then just remove the links to the defamtory content. That is all I wanted, for them to be removed. And yet, here I am almost 6 years and a couple of dozen removal notifications later facing a trial.
The answer, of course, is that this case -- while deeply personal to Dr. Duffy -- isn't just about her. Ceding this ground would allow others less suitably injured to use Google as their own personal reputation management firm. It would allow copyright holders to provide even flimsier justifications for link delisting. And it would open Google up to several similar lawsuits from parties who find it easier to target Google for alleged slights, rather than the authors of defamatory posts. This is why Google's fighting so hard and this is why it really shouldn't be fighting this battle at all.
In its defence, Google claims its activities do not render it “a publisher at all, or in the alternative, the publisher of the matters complained of’’.
The legitimate target(s) of a defamation suit include:

1. The person who uttered the defamatory statements.

All else is simply pray-and-spray litigation. Different laws in different countries will raise or lower the effectiveness of this praying/spraying, and certain countries are willing to overlook logic simply to bash large American companies, but in terms of legitimate lawsuits, the only party that should be listed as a defendant is the defamer. There are discovery routes towards discovering the true identities of anonymous/pseudonymous parties. And yes, this option will increase expenditures. But targeting the biggest, most publicly available names -- no matter how distantly "involved" -- isn't exactly a money saver either, as Janice Duffy has discovered.

Filed Under: australia, defamation, intermediary liability, janice duffy, wrong target
Companies: google, ripoff report


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  • icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 25 Jun 2015 @ 8:28am

    Janice Duffy

    I just have to wonder. Any relation to Paul?

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

  • identicon
    Baron von Robber, 25 Jun 2015 @ 8:35am

    Meanwhile, at Bing...
    Ripoff Report | janice duffy Search of Complaints & …
    www.ripoffreport.com/reports/search/janice duffy

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

    • identicon
      Adam V, 25 Jun 2015 @ 10:04am

      Re:

      Better fire up another crowdfunding campaign to go after Microsoft as well.

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

      • identicon
        Baron von Robber, 25 Jun 2015 @ 10:08am

        Re: Re:

        and another, Yahoo!

        Ripoff Report | janice duffy Search of Complaints...
        www.ripoffreport.com/reports/search/janice duffy

        does it never end?

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

        • identicon
          Baron von Robber, 25 Jun 2015 @ 10:11am

          Re: Re: Re:

          and DuckDuckGo!!!

          "Ripoff Report | janice duffy Search of Complaints & Reviews
          Ripoff Report | janice duffy directory of 205 Complaints & Reviews: shenzhen wanfa kuke technology co, "

          The horror............the horror.

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

      • icon
        Bergman (profile), 27 Jun 2015 @ 2:26pm

        Re: Re:

        This. As Google is not the only search engine, and a win against Google holds no legal weight against Bing, Yahoo, etc...

        How exactly does she expect to bury the defamatory article by suing one of about a dozen indexes?

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

  • identicon
    Michael, 25 Jun 2015 @ 8:35am

    Janice Duffy is obviously intelligent

    All evidence seems to point the other way on this one.

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

  • icon
    Derek (profile), 25 Jun 2015 @ 8:58am

    Deep Pockets?

    And where is Steve Dallas when you need him?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Jun 2015 @ 9:22am

    Interesting reading up on this.... Apparently she has a PHD but it appears she was highly involved in being a psychic. Most of the alleged claims were of her stalking and not letting go...

    Oddly enough much of the allegations was of her actually posting or threatening to post on ripoffreports about others...

    So now she is waging this falsely directed battle against Google and not letting go...

    The thing is the allegations wouldn't prevent her from working.. I mean she could've laughed off the allegations and gotten hired somehow, somewhere in the eight years since the allegations first occurred.

    But she hasn't...only giving further credence in the allegations.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Jun 2015 @ 9:56am

      Re:

      A researcher is expected to be able to diagnose the cause of problems, and learn from the results of things that they try to do. She is demonstrating an ability to do neither.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Jun 2015 @ 10:47am

    How is this any different than Europe's flaky right to be forgotten? You know, where they target Google for giving directions to information and not the place where the information is?

    It's like the police arresting the informant and ignoring the criminal down the street.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Jun 2015 @ 1:36pm

    Wondering if it wouldn't be easier for an anonymous benefactor (who happens to use the Mountain View, CA post office) to mail a box full of cash & a note that says "Go sue Ripoff Report" to Dr. Duffy. Now that I think about it, maybe I'm only half-joking.

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

    • icon
      ror not for consmuers (profile), 26 Jun 2015 @ 2:55am

      The irony,how Janice Duffy, has been warning the world about dangers of cyber-defamation while being one of primary perpetrators of it.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Jun 2015 @ 3:50pm

    didn't i read something of this nature a week or so ago? the EU court had ruled that web sites or ISPs or someone have suddenly been pronounced that they are responsible and prosecutable for the comments of people or members on their sites. i cant remember exactly what it was but it removed the protection that had been in place until then. this sounds like a similar example! i dont know who is lining their pockets but those sitting on the bench of this EU court seem to have suddenly decided that nothing as far as freedom and privacy is worth anything, unlike the availability to sue some fucker for what someone else said. it's like making parents responsible for everything kids say, from the time they start to talk. bloody ridiculous!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Jun 2015 @ 4:52pm

    She's a South Australian and you expect any better?

    That's like expecting a Territorian to NOT be a drinker. Or a New South Wales policeman to have a sense of humour or a New South Wales politician to be an honest upstanding member of society.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Jun 2015 @ 8:23pm

    One of the big internet problems is juristriction everybodywants rules that match their real world experience here in oz i expect to be able to sue some company if they lie or mis
    represent me. But that is not how things work in the USA

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Jun 2015 @ 8:59pm

    Ceding this ground would allow others less suitably injured to use Google as their own personal reputation management firm.
    Hang on. Australia isn't part of Europe.

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

  • icon
    G Thompson (profile), 25 Jun 2015 @ 9:13pm

    This woman is trying to use the ruling in Gutnick to be relevant in Google's case, when in fact Gutnick has no relevance here since Google is NOT a publisher in this matter.

    The person she should be suing is Ripoff Reports instead which under the Gutnick ruling she probably has a better chance of success.

    Though unlike the respondents in Gutnick (Dow Jones and Co), Ripoff Reports has no offices in Australia so a comity action on a success would not be available either.

    Gutnick refers to "Dow Jones and Company Inc v Gutnick [2002] HCA 56" and is found at http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/HCA/2002/56.html

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

  • icon
    ror not for consmuers (profile), 26 Jun 2015 @ 2:43am

    Lawsuit Hoax

    This is a public relations ploy by Janice Duffy who is a business partner in an Australian based reputation management company which sells censorship / deletion of Google search results with an illicit SQL injection code.

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

  • icon
    ror not for consmuers (profile), 26 Jun 2015 @ 3:12am

    Prenda Law Scam by Duffy in 2010

    Duffy participated in the false flag copyright-enforcement crusade in 2010, through Prenda Law. The litigation strategy consisted of monitoring BitTorrent download activity of their copyrighted pornographic movies, recording IP addresses of the computers downloading the movies, filing suit in federal court to subpoena Internet Service Providers (“ISPs”) for the identity of the subscribers to these IP addresses, and sending cease-and-desist letters to the subscribers, offering to settle each copyright infringement claim for about $4,000.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Jun 2015 @ 9:52am

    That was US Lawyer Paul Duffy. No known connection to the subject of this article.

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

  • icon
    Derek Kerton (profile), 30 Jun 2015 @ 10:58am

    Roadsigns and Windmills

    It's like suing a road sign pointing to Vegas, cuz I got mugged in Vegas.

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

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 30 Jun 2015 @ 6:18pm

    Once again allegedly intelligent people who for some idiotic defect in logic think the Google is the internet.

    - Google links to it, they owe me.
    This is also seen as going after the deepest pockets who, once upon a time, might have paid these delusional idiots to just shut up and go away.

    - Google links to it, they are responsible.
    Look at all of the DMCA takedowns sent, a HUGE majority of them target Google... not the site hosting the alleged infringing content. (Alleged is used properly here as one need look at about 10 notices to see the huge defects in detection.)

    - Google should just do what I want.
    Google has the spine to stand up to these petty morons, because it will cost them far much more to cave in. Look at how much they have had to sink into the DMCA processing, and the nightmare let they it become. Had they gone to court & made the solid case of we just index we do not host, promote, post any of these thing and gotten a Judge smart enough to understand Google is not the internet they could have escaped the nightmare.

    Google is not a magic wand like politicians and idiots (same diff) want it to be. They should not be the sole target of laws & demands. It might make them work to try and target those they should but with Google being the internet to so many people it makes a better soundbite.

    I hope the researcher fails, and the court finally suggest that she researches why she lost. But then I'm guessing she isn't that much of a researcher given her activities so far.

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

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 1 Jul 2015 @ 1:05am

    o_O

    So wait, lemme get this...
    because Google showed a snippet in the search result, they somehow magically wrote the content and published it. This is the amazing battle.

    That is almost as impressive as the legal document where a Judge ordered Google to turn over information on the identities of people who posted on ripoff report. Google knows a lot of stuff, but how would they have information about posters on a site they don't run or control?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Jul 2015 @ 9:02pm

    So if Google is a neutral service which has no responsibility for the placement of items in its search engine why did it deindex Duffy's blog for several days?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2015 @ 4:56pm

    It's a publicity campaign for Duffy and her business partners Reputation Management company that offers removal of content from Google.

    Janice and her business partner have been using an automated technology to generate defamatory content about individuals and corporations that value their reputations the bigger the better. We're talking about a whole new strain of WMDs weapons of mass defamation. Think about it: What if allegations of pedophilia were to pop up the next time you Google your name? Or obscene stories about your wife or your daughter? When we're talking about the potential ruin of your career, your marriage, or your child's future, money is no object and these predators know it. When the time is right, you'll get an email and it'll be Duffy and her business partner to the rescue antidote in one hand, anthrax in the other.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2015 @ 4:21am

      Re: It's a publicity campaign for Duffy and her business partners Reputation Management company that offers removal of content from Google.

      Darren M. Meade says he was paid to write lies about Dr. Duffy on behalf of the Ripoff Report. But Meade wrote lies because he has a vendetta against them and are trying to blame Ed.

      Meade is a liar and he has offered no proff that the Ripoff Report targeted Dr. duffy with false accusations.

      Darren M. Meade writes bogus stories and tried to get the Ripoff Report in trouble.

      The Ripoff Report NEVER targeted Australians like Dr Duffy. Darren M. Meade is a liar.

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

  • identicon
    Darren M. Meade, 7 Oct 2015 @ 11:04pm

    Another painfully dumb comment by Dr. Janice Duffy

    Another, painfully dumb comment by @drjaniceduffy all charges due to my reporting were dismissed with prejudice (which means I can NEVER be charged again) without any conditions. Listen to the the Judge at time marker 3:50-4:10 https://youtu.be/98WnZysDT9o

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


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