Google wins Australia defamation case over use of hyperlinks
Sydney, Australia, Aug 17 (EFE).- Australia’s highest court on Wednesday ruled that tech giant Google is not legally responsible for a defamatory news story accessed through search engine results.
“The High Court, by majority, found that the appellant was not a publisher of the defamatory matter,” the court’s ruling said, adding that a search result hyperlink merely facilitated access to the story and did not lend assistance to the publisher in communicating defamatory matter to third-party users.
At the center of the legal battle was what is referred to as the “Underworld article,” which was published in 2004 by The Age newspaper about Melbourne criminal lawyer George Defteros, who had been accused of conspiracy of and incitement to murder, although those charges were later dropped.
Wednesday’s ruling overturns a 2020 decision by the Supreme Court of Victoria, which determined in 2020 that the tech giant should pay Defteros AU$40,000 ($28,000) in damages for defamation.
Both the Victorian court and a subsequent ruling by the Court of Appeal held Google liable as the “publisher” of the article for times users searched for “George Defteros” and clicked on the link to the article.
“The provision of a hyperlink in the Search Result merely facilitated access to the Underworld article and was not an act of participation in the bilateral process of communicating the contents of that article to a third party,” reads the High Court’s decision. EFE