Australian wins $208k from Google for defamation

November 12, 2012
Google has been ordered to pay Aus$200,000 (US$208,000) in damages to an Australian man Monday after a jury found the Internet giant defamed him by publishing material linking him to mobsters.

Google was ordered to pay Aus$200,000 (US$208,000) in damages to an Australian Monday after a jury found the Internet giant defamed him by publishing material linking him to mobsters.

Milorad Trkulja, an entertainment promoter who is now 62, was shot in the back in 2004 in a crime that was never solved.

He accused of defaming him with material which he said implied he was a major crime figure in Melbourne and had been the target of a professional hit.

Searches of his name brought up references to the city's gangsters including crime boss Tony Mokbel and a now defunct site called "Melbourne Crime" chronicling gang-related incidents.

Google denied publication in the Supreme Court of Victoria, saying it had innocently disseminated material published by others. It also disputed that the material conveyed the defamatory implications claimed by Trkulja.

But a jury ruled in his favour, finding the Internet firm had been on notice and failed to act on the issue from October 2009, when Trkulja's lawyers wrote to them demanding action over the "grossly defamatory" content.

Bond University media law expert Mark Pearson, who specialises in social media and legal issues, said it was a "groundbreaking" precedent in Australia and could have broader implications.

"What the court's said here is that this isn't just innocent architecture, what this is is human-designed software to showcase information in a certain way," Pearson told AFP.

"The judge has said that because you (Google) have designed (the search results) to appear in this way, you are the publisher of the material."

Google, which is understood to be contemplating an appeal, stood by its arguments in court.

"Google's search results are a reflection of the content and information that is available on the web," a Google spokesman told AFP.

"The sites in Google's are controlled by those sites' webmasters, not by Google."

Judge David Beach ordered Google to pay Trkulja Aus$200,000, likening their role in publication to a library or newsagent, which have "sometimes been held to be publishers for the purposes of defamation law" in Australia.

"Google Inc is like the newsagent that sells a newspaper containing a defamatory article," Beach said in his judgement.

"While there might be no specific intention to publish defamatory material, there is a relevant intention by the newsagent to publish the newspaper for the purposes of the law of defamation."

Beach said the jury was "entitled to conclude that Google Inc intended to publish the material that its automated systems produced, because that was what they were designed to do upon a search request".

Trkulja argued that his reputation was central to his work and had been seriously damaged by the defamatory material. He had already won Aus$225,000 from Yahoo in an earlier case on the same matter.

Explore further: UK court rejects suit on Google search results

Related Stories

Paris court fines Google for copyright breaches

March 8, 2011

A Paris court has found Google guilty of four counts of copyright breach, ordering the Internet search giant to pay out hundreds of thousands of euros, court records seen Tuesday showed.

Google: Belgian papers to appear in searches again

July 18, 2011

(AP) -- Google began allowing the Web sites of French-language Belgian newspapers to appear in its search results again on Monday, saying it had obtained the papers' legal consent to do so without repercussions.

Google loses Australian advert cases

April 3, 2012

Internet giant Google was Tuesday found guilty of false and misleading advertising in Australia after a court upheld an appeal by the country's competition regulator.

Judge refuses to delay NY case for Google appeal

August 29, 2012

(AP)—The federal judge presiding over challenges to Google Inc.'s plans to create the world's largest digital library has refused to delay the 7-year-old case while Google appeals his decision to grant authors class certification.

Google loses appeal against French tax searches

November 2, 2012

A Paris appeals court has rejected a request by Internet search giant Google to invalidate the search and seizure of documents by French tax authorities, according to a copy of the decision obtained by AFP on Friday.

Recommended for you

Team develops targeted drug delivery to lung

September 2, 2015

Researchers from Columbia Engineering and Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) have developed a new method that can target delivery of very small volumes of drugs into the lung. Their approach, in which micro-liters ...

Not another new phone! But Nextbit's Robin is smarter

September 2, 2015

San Francisco-based Nextbit wants you to meet Robin, which they consider as the smarter smartphone. Their premise is that no one is making a smart smartphone; when you get so big it's hard to see the forest through the trees. ...

Team creates functional ultrathin solar cells

August 27, 2015

(Phys.org)—A team of researchers with Johannes Kepler University Linz in Austria has developed an ultrathin solar cell for use in lightweight and flexible applications. In their paper published in the journal Nature Materials, ...

Magnetic fields provide a new way to communicate wirelessly

September 1, 2015

Electrical engineers at the University of California, San Diego demonstrated a new wireless communication technique that works by sending magnetic signals through the human body. The new technology could offer a lower power ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.