Aussie court al­lows man to sue Google for defama­tion

The Sun (Malaysia) - - NEWS WITHOUT BORDERS -

MEL­BOURNE: A court cleared the way for a rare defama­tion ac­tion against Google yes­ter­day af­ter a man claimed the global in­ter­net gi­ant pub­lished ma­te­rial link­ing him to Aus­tralia’s crim­i­nal un­der­world.

Entertainment pro­moter Milo­rad Trkulja was shot in the back at a Mel­bourne restau­rant in a 2004 crime that was never solved.

In 2012, Google was or­dered to pay A$200,000 (RM606,000) in dam­ages to Trkulja, who claimed he was de­famed by ma­te­rial that im­plied he was a ma­jor crime fig­ure and had been the tar­get of a pro­fes­sional hit.

Trkulja then launched fur­ther pro­ceed­ings against the on­line be­he­moth re­lat­ing to im­ages and text that he said con­tin­ued to link him to un­der­world fig­ures, ac­cord­ing to the Aus­tralian Broad­cast­ing Cor­po­ra­tion.

A Vic­to­rian state court ruled in favour of Google, but Aus­tralia’s High Court has now up­held an ap­peal by Trkulja, paving the way for his defama­tion ac­tion.

At least some search re­sults for Trkulja “had the ca­pac­ity to con­vey... that the ap­pel­lant was some­how as­so­ci­ated with the Mel­bourne crim­i­nal un­der­world”, the court said.

Google has de­nied Trkulja’s al­le­ga­tions, say­ing it had in­no­cently dis­sem­i­nated ma­te­rial pub­lished by oth­ers.

“We will con­tinue to de­fend the claim,” a Google spokesman said yes­ter­day, de­clin­ing to com­ment fur­ther.

In the 2012 de­ci­sion, a jury ruled Google had failed to act when Trkulja’s lawyers wrote to them de­mand­ing ac­tion over the “grossly defam­a­tory” con­tent.

Trkulja had ar­gued his rep­u­ta­tion was crit­i­cal to his work as a pro­moter and had been se­ri­ously dam­aged by the defam­a­tory ma­te­rial.

There has been le­gal de­bate in Aus­tralia about whether search en­gines like Google can be con­sid­ered “pub­lish­ers” un­der Aus­tralian defama­tion law, even if they did not cre­ate the con­tent.

Pre­vi­ous court rul­ings have given con­flict­ing views. – AFP

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