Google Finally Wins One Of Those Nutty Defamation Lawsuits Down Under

from the about-time dept

Over the past few years, we've written about a series of truly nutty court decisions in Australia that have found Google and Yahoo liable for defamation for certain search results. In writing about it, we've seriously angered some of the plaintiffs in those cases, including one who went on a rampage posting a bunch of blatantly made up info about us, apparently thinking they were "proving a point" about how we'd get upset about defamatory material being posted about us. Another, Milorad Trkulja, sent us one of the nuttiest legal threats we've ever seen, which was then followed up with an even more ridiculous threat from an Australian lawyer who seemed to not fully understand the legal threats he was making (nor the difference between "drivel" and "dribble.")

Mr. Trkulja is back in the news, as it seems his luck with the Australian courts has run out. If you don't recall, the origin of his case was that if you did a Google image search on Australian organized crime, sometimes Trkulja's own image would show up. Trkulja sued Google and Yahoo over this and (somewhat amazingly) won, with the effective argument being that once Trkulja alerted them to this they should have fixed the search results. There are a number of reasons why this is a bad decision, as we've discussed in previous posts, but suffice it to say, holding a search engine liable for search results people don't like opens up a huge pandora's box of problems.

Anyway, it seems that these kinds of lawsuits have become more popular in Australia, with another one appearing just last month. But, Trkulja's attempt to get even more money from Google has come up short on appeal.
In 2013 he launched another defamation action against Google, and the internet company responded by applying to the Supreme Court to have the proceedings set aside because, it argued, his case had no real prospect of success. A judge dismissed Google's application.

But Google appealed against that ruling, and the Victorian Court of Appeal ruled on Tuesday in Google's favour when it set aside Mr Trkulja's application.

The Court of Appeal found Google was not the primary publisher of the images and could not be found responsible for the results of online searches, which were produced automatically.

The search results were also incapable of being found defamatory of Mr Trkulja, the appeal court ruled.
Finally some good news on these kinds of cases down under. And, because Trkulja and friends may stop by here and freak out again, let's be clear about what we're saying: no one is saying that it's good that Google's search results popped up some unfortunate anomalies around your images. But it happened. That doesn't mean that Google is liable, or that you should have the right to edit Google's search results by lawsuit (or to demand lots and lots of cash from Google). Search engines aren't doing this on purpose, and it's not defamatory. It's just giving the best results it can, and sometimes those aren't perfect.
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Filed Under: australia, defamation, intermediary liability, milorad trkulja, stuart gibson
Companies: google

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Dec 2016 @ 4:46pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Then why are you wasting your time in the comments?

    Because if he/she/it didn't, they couldn't put on the martyr song in three acts.

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