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Google Held Responsible For Libelous Search Result

Written by Mike Hohnen on November 27, 2012

A recent decision from an Australian court could be detrimental to the future of internet overlord Google. For years the search engine had been held unaccountable for the material produced through its service, that is until now.

A Melbourne judge has ruled in the favour of music promoter Milorad Trkulja, who took on the dot com juggernaut after searches of his name produced results that indicated he was connected with Melbourne underworld figures. Trkulja apparently requested that they remove such results appearing from future searches, but his requests were ignored.

Throughout not only this trial, but many like this in the past, Google maintained their long-running stance on the issue, which from a technical standpoint does make sense. Due to the fact that the results from the search are the product of a series of algorithms, Google itself doesn’t publish the findings, and as Mashable explain, there is no human involved in the process whatsoever.

What’s more, as a Google spokesperson put it, “The sites in Google’s search results are controlled by those sites’ webmasters, not by Google”. This is something Trkulja had already taken care of back in 2009 when he took on Yahoo! who hosted one of the sites.

The court decided that when Trkulja requested to Google that they remove the content, and they didn’t, they broke the law as at that point there was a human involved and they were therefore responsible. Google was ordered to pay $200,000 to the plaintiff.

Just as you’d expect, Google will be appealing the verdict.

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