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Google not liable for defamation in search results, rules high court

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Google not liable for defamation in search results, rules high court

Internet giant Google wins landmark high court libel ruling over forum comment displayed in search results

Google is not liable for defamatory comments that appear in news articles, blogs and forums displayed in its search results, a high court judge in London has concluded in a landmark ruling for UK defamation law.

The case, against Google's US and UK operations, had been brought by London-based Metropolitan International Schools.

MIS runs distance learning courses in games development under the name Train2Game. MIS launched legal action over comments on the forum of a website that it claimed were defamatory and that appeared in Google's search results.

The company claimed that Google was liable as a publisher of defamatory comments. Google responded that it has no responsibility for the words and comments.

Mr Justice Eady ruled in a judgment in the high court on Friday that Google was a "facilitator" and not a publisher of the content.

"When a snippet is thrown up on the user's screen in response to his search, it points him in the direction of an entry somewhere on the web that corresponds, to a greater or lesser extent, to the search terms he has typed in," Eady said. "It is for him to access or not, as he chooses. [Google] has merely, by the provision of its search service, played the role of a facilitator."

An analysis of the decision by the lawyers Pinsent Masons also noted that the ruling said the Google was not liable as a publisher of defamatory comments even in cases where it had been told that its search results contained potentially libellous comments.

However, Eady did say that Google has a responsibility to block or take down content if it is notified with a legitimate complaint about libellous material.

Struan Robertson, a lawyer at Pinsent Masons, said that this was the first judicial analysis of search engine liability for defamation under UK law. "It is undoubtedly a brilliant result for Google and other search engines," Robertson concluded.

"We are pleased with this result, which reinforces the principle that search engines aren't responsible for content that is published on third-party websites," said a spokeman for Google.

"Mr Justice Eady made clear if someone feels they have been defamed by material on a website then they should address their complaint to the person who actually wrote and published the material, and not a search engine, which simply provides a searchable index of content on the internet," the spokesman added.


Refusing to use the spellchick!

I have put you on ignore. No really, I have, but you are still ruining my enjoyment of this site. .

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