From the Federal Court, Inforrm’s Blog and Defamation Watch: The Federal Court has issued its decision in Rana v Google Australia Pty Ltd  FCA 60. The decision has been described as a win of sorts for Google, though not entirely in the terms that they would have preferred.
Mr Rana sought damages from Google for defamation and racial discrimination. Mr Rana claimed that Google Australia and Google Inc failed to remove defamatory material of Darda and Nina Gregurev on websites hosted by them, causing harm including the aggravation of paranoid schizophrenia and type two diabetes, and that Google Australia and Google Inc did not remove such comments from their platforms contrary to both the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) and the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth).
Mr Rana claimed that Google Australia were the owner of the domains on which the allegedly defamatory material about him was published. Google Australia applied to have the case against them struck out, claiming that Mr Rana had no reasonable prospect of proving that Google Australia did own the domains in question and had control over them. This was on the basis that Google Australia has no control over the actions of Google Inc, the ultimate holding company for Google worldwide. Google Australia also claimed that there was no reasonable prospect of Mr Rana proving that Google was the publisher of the information in question.
Justice Mansfield determined that the issue of whether Google was a publisher remained unsettled, and therefore it would be inappropriate to strike Google Australia out on that basis. The question as to whether Google can be considered to ‘publish’ information that appears in its search results remains in question.
However, Mansfield J did determine that there was no reasonable prospect of Mr Rana proving that Google Australia had any control over Google Inc, and that Google Inc had control over what material was present in search results etc. The decision thus maintained a strong distinction between national manifestations of Google and the international operations of Google, which runs its search interface.