Italian court overturns Google convictions

December 21, 2012 by Colleen Barry

(AP)—An Italian appeals court on Friday overturned the convictions of three Google executives found criminally responsible for a video on a Google site that showed a disabled teen being bullied.

Google said it was "delighted" with the appellate ruling that cleared the executives and removed uncertainty in Italy over the 's business model.

The original verdict raised alarms that Web-based platforms could be forced to police their content in Italy and perhaps beyond, while putting European at odds with the freewheeling nature of the Internet.

A lower court in 2010 convicted the three of for a 2006 video posted on Google Video, a video-sharing service Google ran before the company acquired YouTube later that year.

None of the executives charged in the case were in any way involved in the creation or posting of the video and Google said they took it down within two hours of being notified by authorities.

Google, in its final arguments before the court, noted 72 hours of video is posted on YouTube every minute—a quantity that would be impossible to preview. That has multiplied from 20 hours of video a minute at the time of the initial verdict.

The appellate ruling throws out the and six-month suspended sentences against Google's global privacy counsel Peter Fleischer, its and chief legal officer David Drummond and retired George Reyes.

"We're very happy that the verdict has been reversed and our colleagues' names have been cleared," Giorgia Abeltino, policy manager at Google Italy said in a statement. "Of course, while we are delighted with the appeal, our thoughts continue to be with the family, who have been through the ordeal."

Initially the three executives, along with a fourth, had been charged also with defamation. All four were cleared of that charge in the first trial.

Google and other hosting platforms generally rely on other users flagging objectionable content.

Marco Camisani Calzolari, an Internet entrepreneur, said the ruling only confirmed that "the platform is not responsible for content, of course."

Calzolari runs a platform called , currently active in nine countries with 20,000 new users a day, where he faces similar issues. The five-year-old site allows users to collect signatures on petitions, which can be the source of acrimony and controversy.

"We do not filter in advance," he said, adding that he will remove items on request when it is clear it is in some way illegal or offensive.

The footage in the Google case showed an autistic student in Turin being pushed, pummeled with objects, including a pack of tissues, and insulted by classmates, who called him a "mongoloid."

The prosecutor's in their case—which was based on a complaint by an advocacy group—emphasized that the video had been viewed 5,500 times over the two months it was online and had elicited more than 80 comments, including users urging its removal.

argued that it was unaware of the offensive material and acted swiftly to remove it after being notified by authorities.

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1 / 5 (1) Dec 21, 2012
Google, in its final arguments before the court, noted 72 hours of video is posted on YouTube every minute—a quantity that would be impossible to preview.

Impossible? 72x60x24x7x365/60=4,415,000 hours/year (at most since certain uploaders could be "certified" - certain businesses, charities etc. - to upload without review). If you paid college students $10/hour to review, it would cost Google $45 million.

That's not cheap - but it isn't impossible.

In point of fact, that was a horrendous argument since many more than 72 hours is being watched every minute on Youtube anyway.

I'm not saying Google should have to do that - just that expensive isn't the same as "impossible".
2.3 / 5 (3) Dec 21, 2012
Youtube is full of unwatched videos
1.6 / 5 (5) Dec 21, 2012
Impossible? 72x60x24x7x365/60=4,415,000 hours/year (at most since certain uploaders could be "certified" - certain businesses, charities etc. - to upload without review)....

72*60=4,320 hours uploaded per hour
4,320*24=103,680 hours uploaded per day
103,680*365.25=37,896,120 hours uploaded per year, accommodating leap year.

Over 8 times more than your calculation. Not sure why you (*7) and (/60). Care to explain?

Even considering that some users could be "pre-certified" and not subject to required review, if every user uploaded the same amount, over 80% of users would need to be certified in order to come close to your hypothetical target expenditure. However, it would be likely no more than 1/3 of users would be certified and thus the cost would be significantly higher.
1 / 5 (1) Dec 21, 2012
Yeah, I messed up the calculation.

Still, I suspect more than 1/3 of the total time would not have to be watched. Most individuals' uploads from my viewing are short - a few minutes in length. The longer stuff is most often by entities that could be certified - university courses, etc.

The point is, that even if I'm off by a factor of 10, Google's argument comes down to: It will cost us a lot so let us go ahead and let people get slagged and defamed.

If you are a lone blogger out there not making a profit off your website and someone posts something defamatory, expensive might be a good excuse.

But Google is making billions but wants no responsibility for any harmful effects resulting from how it makes that money.

Seems unfair to me.
1 / 5 (2) Dec 21, 2012
Why don't guys just multiply the hours per minute by the minutes per hour by the hours per day by the days per year to get the number of hours uploaded per year?

72*60*24*365 = 37,843,200 good 'nuff,

You gotta please the masses. Cranks rule.
5 / 5 (1) Dec 22, 2012
All this gives is the number of hours of video involved. If you really wanted the material reviewed to some standard, you have training, supervision, time for discussion, review, etc.

If such an organization could start off running full speed, which is unlikely, the expansion rate in video would require a similar expansion rate in first level staff, and enough reorganizations that the management system, whatever it was, would be ineffective.

So maybe possible in theory, totally impossible in practice.

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