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.
Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: australia, defamation, intermediary liability, milorad trkulja, stuart gibson
Companies: google


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 22 Dec 2016 @ 9:53am

    *sits back & waits for she who will not be named to appear in the comments screaming how how this is a travesty & her lawyer & organization will appeal it to the moon court*

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.