UK court rejects suit on Google search results

Jul 21, 2009 By ROBERT BARR , Associated Press Writer
Google logo A

(AP) -- A British judge has ruled that Google cannot be held responsible for defamatory words that appear in results on the popular Internet search engine.

Justice David Eady said that Google is not a publisher because searches are carried out entirely by computers and the does not choose the terms itself.

The case was closely watched because the United Kingdom is perceived as having particularly stringent libel laws.

The ruling came in a suit by Metropolitan International Schools Limited, a British company which offers distance learning courses and trades under the brands of SkillsTrain or Train2Game, and previously as Scheidegger MIS.

MIS sued both Google UK Ltd. and the parent company, Google Inc., and Designtechnica Corp., incorporated in Oregon. The company's hosts bulletin boards and forums that have carried allegedly defamatory complaints about Metropolitan International Schools.

Google cannot be "regarded as a publisher" for what its searches discover on the Web, the judge said in his ruling handed down Thursday, noting that Google had prevailed against similar suits in the Netherlands two years ago, and this year in cases in Spain and France.

MIS had won a lower court order that Designtechnica and Google should answer the suit in London, but that was thrown out by Eady. The plaintiffs have "no reasonable prospect of success," he said.

"When a snippet is thrown up on the user's screen in response to his search, it points him in the direction of an entry somewhere on the Web that corresponds, to a greater or lesser extent, to the he has typed in," Eady said. "It is for him to access or not, as he chooses."

Inc. said in a statement that the verdict reinforces the principle that search engines are not responsible for content that is published on third party Web sites.

The judge "made clear that if someone feels they have been defamed by material on a Web site then they should address their complaint to the person who actually wrote and published the material, and not a , which simply provides a searchable index of content on the Internet," it said.

---

Judgment, http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/QB/2009/1765.html

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Explore further: New social network for teenagers experiences a growth spurt

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Google makes books available online

Nov 03, 2005

Google said Thursday it will make public-domain books available on its Web site -- but said it would limit access to any copyrighted material for now.

Google draws upon rival ideas with search changes

Mar 24, 2009

(AP) -- Google Inc. prides itself on setting trends, but it appears to be copying some of its smaller rivals with the latest refinements to the way it displays Internet search results.

Google glitch disrupts search engine, e-mail

May 14, 2009

(AP) -- Millions of people were cut off from Google Inc.'s search engine, e-mail and other online services Thursday, sparking a flurry of frustrated venting that served as a reminder of society's growing ...

Google search gets semantic

Mar 24, 2009

Google on Tuesday modified its globally popular Internet search service to understand relationships between words, as the company bids to better grasp what Web users are looking for.

Recommended for you

Facebook goes retro with 'Rooms' chat app

22 hours ago

Facebook on Thursday released an application that lets people create virtual "rooms" to chat about whatever they wish using any name they would like.

Some online shoppers pay more than others, study shows

Oct 23, 2014

Internet users regularly receive all kinds of personalized content, from Google search results to product recommendations on Amazon. This is thanks to the complex algorithms that produce results based on users' profiles and ...

User comments : 0