Google has been told to pay the equivalent of $208,000 (USD) after recently losing a defamation case in Australia involving how it showed a 62-year-old man’s name in search results. Google is examining the original jury verdict and may file an appeal.
A judge in the supreme court of the Australian state Victoria issued the fine today and, according to Phys.org, compared Google’s search results to that of an online publisher:
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.”
The plaintiff, Milorad Trkulja, sued Google because his name showed up in searches related to phrases like “Melbourne crime” and near images of suspected members of Melbourne’s organized crime scene. Trkulja was shot in 2004 and the case was originally thought to be linked to organized crime. Read our previous article, Google Loses Australian Defamation Case, Awaiting Decision On Damages, for more background on the case details — it’s somewhat unusual, to say the least.
A Google spokesperson gave us this statement, disagreeing with the judge’s comparison of Google to an online publisher:
“Google’s search results are a reflection of the content and information that is available on the web. The sites in Google’s search results are controlled by those sites’ webmasters, not by Google.”
Trkulja previously won a $225,000 judgment against Yahoo over the same matter.