A jury in Australia has found Google liable for damages after a resident of Victoria complained that its search results had linked him to gangland crime. Milorad Trkulja had alleged that the US firm’s image and web results had harmed his reputation.
In 2004, Trkulja was shot while he was at a restaurant. The crime was never solved but it was widely reported, with the media blaming Melbourne’s underworld. As a result, Trkulja said entering his name into Google Images shows people with shady records, including alleged murderers. In 2009, Trkulja’s lawyers asked Google to amend its results and subsequently filed a lawsuit.
Google argued that its results had been based on automated software processes and, since it was not a publisher itself, put forward the defence of “innocent dissemination”. The jury at the Supreme Court of Victoria agreed that this was a reasonable argument, but said the content should have been removed when the complaint was filed, and as a result the search firm was liable for defamation.
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