Man Sues Google for Harmful Search Results and Wins

December 8, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. defamation (n.) [def-uh-mey-shuh n] – the act of damaging a person’s reputation by spreading false information
Example: The actress accused the newspaper of defamation after it published wrong information.

2. lawsuit (n.) [law-soot] – a legal action taken against someone who has committed an offense
Example A lawsuit was filed against the internet company who stole government data.

3. mobster (n.) [mob-ster] – someone who is  a member of an organization of criminals
Example: Police officers found out the mobster’s drug-selling activity.

4. liable (adj.) [lahy-uh-buh l] – legally responsible for a certain action
Example: The reporter was liable for the comments he made on television.

5. incriminating (adj.) [in-krim-uh-ney-ting] – supporting a claim that someone is guilty for a wrong action
Example: The witness’s incriminating testimony against the criminal influenced the jury’s decision. 

Read the text below.

Milorad Trkulja, an Australian entertainment promoter, recently won a defamation lawsuit against Google.

Trkulja was shot in the back eight years ago. After this incident, Google Search results of his name started showing links to websites that incorrectly connect Trkulja to Australian mobsters.

In 2009, Trkulja’s lawyer asked Google to remove the search results. Trkulja accused Google of defamation because Google displays websites with harmful information about him on its search engines.

The Australian court took Trkulja’s side in the lawsuit. Judge David Beach said that even though Google did not own the websites, the search engine was still liable because it was the publisher of the incriminating links. Judge Beach ordered Google to pay 200,000 Australian dollars (US$208,760) to Trkulja.

Judge Beach compared Google to someone who sells newspapers with offensive content. Although the seller does not write defamatory news articles, the seller still knows there is false information and allows others to see it.

The judge’s decision could mean trouble for Google. If Google can be held responsible for any wrong information found through its search engines, lawsuits against the company could increase.

Previously, Trkulja had sued Yahoo! for similar reasons. He won 225,000 Australian dollars from that lawsuit. Google’s loss might have also been influenced by this earlier event.

Google is appealing to the court to have the order reconsidered.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Do you agree with the court’s decision to make Google pay the man? Why or why not?
·         What are the effects of this lawsuit to Internet search engines?

Discussion B

·         Should we believe everything found on the Internet? Why or why not?
·         How can people know whether information found on the Internet can be believed?


December 8, 2012