Australian man wins defamation case against Google over images published online

The Australian reports that a man has won a landmark defamation law case against Google after images of him were published alongside gangland figures including drug baron Tony Mokbel.

The man – who has lived in Australia for 42 years also claimed that a Google search for his name brought up stories about an unsolved shooting in 2004, causing damage to his reputation leading him to be ostracised within his migrant community.

A jury found Google liable for defamation in the Victorian Supreme court yesterday – a first in Australian history.

Google argued in court that it was not a publisher and therefore could not be held responsible.  Its search processes were automated and based on algorithms that crawl the web for content, Google said.

The jury had to deliberate on two separate issues: the first was the publication of a photo of the man that appeared on Google’s image search.

The second had to do with a URL that appeared on Google’s web search that linked to a web page containing the defamatory content, which included the man’s image.

The jury found that Google was able to rely on the defence of “innocent dissemination” up until 2009 when the man’s solicitors contacted Google to have the image removed.  However, it found that when it came to the URL, the man did not follow the proper process of reporting offensive content by Google – which can be achieved by filling out a form on its website and that Google was therefore not liable.

Full story here.

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