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$200,000 Judgement Against Google In Mokbel Shots Case 140

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the spoons-made-me-fat dept.
niftydude writes with news of damages awarded in a case over Google image search results "Should Google be held liable for images that appear in its search results? An Australian court has said yes. 'A Melbourne man who won a defamation case against search engine giant Google has been awarded $200,000 in damages. Milorad Trkulja, also known as Michael, sued the multinational over images of him alongside a well-known underworld figure that appeared in its search results. A six-person Supreme Court jury found last month that Mr Trkulja had been defamed by the images, which he first contacted Google about removing in 2009.'"
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$200,000 Judgement Against Google In Mokbel Shots Case

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 12, 2012 @07:32PM (#41962145)

    We at Google have had to ban all of Australia from google images. We apologize for the inconvenience.

    Thank you,

    Google.

    • by girlintraining (1395911) on Monday November 12, 2012 @08:03PM (#41962413)

      We here at Internet Tubes And Things had to point out that due to the nature of the internet and the world wide web, banning all of Australia, or even most of the world, wouldn't accomplish anything. Suing google likewise does nothing, and in fact, nuclear weapons are also ineffective. You see, at Internet Tubes And Things, we believe in infinite redundancy and endless replication of data, especially data that's trying to be banned, censored, or access-controlled. Whenever someone tries to remove that product feature, we like to return it to the user in question about a thousand times more.

      Thank You,

      Internet Tubes And Things

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This makes me want to find the photo and blanket the internet....

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You should do that. You don't have to worry about his mob connections, because they're not true.

    • by gabebear (251933)
      The linked article doesn't say it, but other articles [dawn.com] say Google may appeal this decision.

      I hope they do appeal and don't let this sit as precedence, although it will likely cost them more than $200K just to try to fix this.
      • Re:Ridiculous (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 12, 2012 @11:09PM (#41963975)

        Google pretty much has to appeal this decision:

        "Google Inc is like the newsagent that sells a newspaper containing a defamatory article," Beach said in his judgement.

        "While there might be no specific intention to publish defamatory material, there is a relevant intention by the newsagent to publish the newspaper for the purposes of the law of defamation." Beach said the jury was "entitled to conclude that Google Inc intended to publish the material that its automated systems produced, because that was what they were designed to do upon a search request".

        By that logic, Google and other search engines are liable for every piece of defamatory information which can be found on the web. That's a precedent Google can't afford to let stand, not unless they want to pull out of Australia entirely (which would serve Australia right.)

    • by deniable (76198)
      The Google cache should have it.
  • by tbird81 (946205) on Monday November 12, 2012 @07:38PM (#41962183)

    Or is it just another judge taking glee out of fining wealthy companies for the sake of it?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by pokoteng (2729771)
      No, unlike American courts, Australian courts take these things seriously. They probably sat there pondering for a long time with whole list of evidence and whatnot, and came to conclusion that indeed, the person is owed $200k worth of damages for defamation. $200k AUD is, assuming $50k salary (relatively low income), only some 4 years worth of salary. It's not a massive jackpot of any means, and most of it probably goes to the lawyer fees. You'll barely afford half a suburban flat with it here. Evidence m
      • by Shavano (2541114) on Monday November 12, 2012 @08:06PM (#41962441)

        No, unlike American courts, Australian courts take these things seriously. They probably sat there pondering for a long time with whole list of evidence and whatnot, and came to conclusion that indeed, the person is owed $200k worth of damages for defamation. $200k AUD is, assuming $50k salary (relatively low income), only some 4 years worth of salary. It's not a massive jackpot of any means, and most of it probably goes to the lawyer fees. You'll barely afford half a suburban flat with it here. Evidence must have stacked that the image results search for him has made him suffer some level of financial and other damages, but not as great as people seem to think. I don't know the exact court details, but some poor judge sat there and added up the sums for this.

        In America, truth of the information stated is an affirmative defense against libel and slander. So if you happen to be standing next to a total douche when I snap a picture, that's your tough luck. The information is true so it's not slanderous or libelous. If I photoshop one or the other of you into the picture to make a false association, that could be libelous.

        And the information isn't really defamatory. Two people standing in the same place at the same time is no big deal. I've stood next to THOUSANDS of people I don't know and who the hell cares?

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by SirAdelaide (1432553)
          The issue was that after the shooting incident, his photo was wrongly associated with the name of a violent gang. He might have been shot by that gang, but wasn't part of it. A website wrongly used his photo with the wrong name, and after indexing that site, Google showed his photo when people searched for a particular criminal. He asked for Google to block that photo when those search terms were used, and they didn't. That is when his lawyers said he had a case.
          • A website wrongly used his photo with the wrong name, and after indexing that site, Google showed his photo when people searched for a particular criminal.

            That's like arresting the mailman instead of the Unabomber.

        • by sg_oneill (159032)

          The problem is, counter-intuitively you can defame people with the truth.

          Lets say Barack Obama has serious Asthma (I dont know, I'm just making this up as an innocuous example). Well, lets say he uses an asthma puffer quite regularly, in fact a bit more than the doctor recomends, he's a busy man and easier to huff a puffer than follow a full prevention plan after all. Ventolin is also a drug that the more you use the more dependent you can become of it, despite the fact its also utterly essential for wardi

      • I don't think they are any different as far as common sense goes. Often cases start out winning in the lower courts and are overturned the higher up the case travels. This is far from over.

        • by pokoteng (2729771)
          Except if you read TFA it says it's a decision by supreme court, which by I assume the high court of Australia, which is the highest and final court of appeal for making decisions on. There isn't much else to go from here, AFAIK.
          • by nedlohs (1335013)

            A supreme court is not the high court. Supreme courts are the highest courts in each state, the high court is the court of appeal for them. Though it's not that likely they'd grant special leave to appeal this particular case.

            • by pokoteng (2729771)
              I stand corrected on that note then. But yes, most likely this is the end of it and google will pay up.
          • I was actually expecting someone to try to make that point, and yes, our Superior Court is probably the equivalent to their Supreme Court.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      TFS doesn't really paint a good picture:

      from TFA:
      "Google search results also linked to a page on a now defunct website, Melbourne Crime, which had published photos labelled with his name.
      Mr Trkulja said he had never initially intended to sue Google but had been galvanised into action after his request for the content to be removed from its searches in 2009 was not granted.
      Supreme Court Justice David Beach this morning said in awarding the damages that the case was about ‘‘vindication and ‘

    • by MacGyver2210 (1053110) on Monday November 12, 2012 @09:10PM (#41963017)

      I don't think anyone is accusing Australian government agencies of exercising common sense at this point. The UK is like USA Part 2: The Less Rights Version, and Australia is like UK Part 2: Even Less Rights.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 12, 2012 @07:39PM (#41962189)

    Conveniently omitted by the original poster;

    "However, the jury found Google’s defence of the images broke down because it did not take any steps to remove the images from its searches once Mr Trkulja’s lawyers contacted the company."

    He asked Google to do something about it, and they refused. Hence the suing. Seems kinda reasonable to me.

    • by fustakrakich (1673220) on Monday November 12, 2012 @07:41PM (#41962211) Journal

      Seems kinda reasonable to me.

      No, it's not. It's bullshit. I expect unfiltered results when searching.

      • by Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) on Monday November 12, 2012 @07:44PM (#41962235)

        When you find a search engine that does that, let us know!

        • You're right. It won't happen unless I run my own crawler myself. Eh, maybe when I get a spare machine... However, if we all step up the demand, we might get what we need.

      • by Bremic (2703997)

        Someone posts a article that accidentally mentions your name in relation to a scandal (say child-pornography for example. It was supposed to be a different name, but the person got it wrong.
        Someone else goes to your LinkedIn Profile (or something) and grabs a photo, which gets linked to the article.
        Google caches the search and the result.

        The original poster fixes the problem and pulls the content; Google refuses to.

        Then you go for a job, the potential employer goes to your LinkedIn profile and grabs the pho

        • I shall refer you to this [slashdot.org]:
          The only way is for false accusations not to matter. That means no vigilantes; it means the law deals seriously with people who are dangerous paedophiles (so people have confidence that they don't need to intervene themselves) and it means people who cause harm to the falsely accused, for example by firing them from work, should be forced to fully and completely compensate them for that harm. - (emphasis mine)

          They find a result for the photo and your name linked to a defunct article on child-pornography.
          Don't expect a call.

          When people act in bad faith, which is what that would be, then they sho

          • Now, let's consider the real world of employment, shall we?

            The employer is not trying to be fair to all applicants. The employer is trying to hire a person for a role. In most cases, there are many people who would do well in that role, and if the economy gets strained, there may be many qualified applicants. The employer has a legal duty to be fair to certain protected classes (in the US; I know this is an Australian case, but I'm far more familiar with US employment law), and if the employer conside

            • Knowing that it's full of false, obsolete information/propaganda, you don't Google the applicants. In fact, it's best to pretend the internet doesn't exist. To use it is nothing more than taking the cheap, convenient way out. And I would say that people who do use it for this are acting in bad faith by default. Outside private networks and personal/business solicited emailings, the internet should only be used strictly for entertainment purposes only. Going beyond that should be discouraged, to say the leas

              • ...taking the cheap, convenient way out.

                Except that taking the cheap, convenient way out is precisely what businesses want to do, and for good reasons. They have no desire nor incentive to spend more or do more work without a good chance of a significantly better result. Businesses that do it are acting in their best interests. You call it "acting in bad faith", but I don't see any reason other than that you don't like it.

                • Using gossip to check on people is acting in bad faith, no different than going to the National Inquirer or Star Magazine. Acting in one's interests does not change that. There is no good reason not to verify what you see and hear before acting on an accusation. It's not a matter of me liking it or not. Obviously you're not getting the message here, and seem to think this kind of thing is justifiable. That makes you part of the problem, worse than than the accuser himself. The punishment should come out of

      • by MobyDisk (75490)

        I do too, but that isn't the problem.

        Google search results also linked to a page on a now defunct website, Melbourne Crime, which had published photos labelled with his name.

        The site took down the pictures, but Google still served up the result. Google lost the case because the original was retracted, but Google didn't retract theirs. The lesson here is for Google: If you are going to index something, you have to keep that index up to date.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Google did it's job and found sites that contained his name and his image from a website and reported that result to the searcher. It was the website that he had a problem with so he should have dealt with that website. Suing Google and Yahoo for doing their jobs is just wrong. Google and yahoo did not create the content, they just provided results that link to the content. I do not want Google, Yahoo, or another other search engine to omit results. I do not want to see something like the Chinese censorship

    • Dig even deeper.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cyssero (1554429) on Monday November 12, 2012 @08:00PM (#41962383)
      "Mr Trkulja had incorrectly filled out a form for reporting offensive material by not including the URL of the content to which he objected."

      Hello, Google? Yes, you know that image, I want it taken down as it defames me. Just do it and don't ask me these frivolous questions
      • by gmhowell (26755) <gmhowell@gmail.com> on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @04:35AM (#41965363) Homepage Journal

        "Mr Trkulja had incorrectly filled out a form for reporting offensive material by not including the URL of the content to which he objected."

        Hello, Google? Yes, you know that image, I want it taken down as it defames me. Just do it and don't ask me these frivolous questions

        He probably expected them to Google it on Bing or something.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Google was right not remove the tag on the image then because the form was filled out incorrectly. However, when the guy's lawyer contacted Google with the correct information, they should have honored it. Google clearly recognizes that their search engine and indexing algorithms aren't perfect and people can be mistakenly associated with negative tags that could harm reputations. They also have a vested interest of making sure that their search results are as accurate as possible. That's why they have a fo

    • The problem is that Google didn't place them there. Also, if Google were to take everything down they'd be overwhelmed by the work. Besides asking an entity like Google to remove something is a form of censorship. I'm sure Google doesn't like to always cave to censorship requests. What defies common sense is that now everyone gets to sue because they don't like what the search index says, and they get to sue the wrong entity. I'm sure the information is in Bing and other search engines too, so how did

    • by Ven1ger (1871154)

      Anyone can hire a lawyer and have the lawyer draw up a cease and desist order for a company, in general doesn't have any teeth unless there is a court order behind it. There are many celebrities that have lawyers who do this sort of thing as a matter of SOP. What's missing here is a court order acknowledging that the images should be taken down because the plaintiff was able to prove to the court that it was defamatory in nature.

      How does he show that he was financially harmed by this? Did he lose any emp

  • Easy as 1,2,3 (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    1. Find dodgy bloke and get photo taken with said bloke
    2. Upload
    3. ???
    4. Profit!
  • by msheekhah (903443) on Monday November 12, 2012 @07:47PM (#41962257)
    I would stop doing business in countries that don't seem to understand the difference between a search engine that indexes the internet and the original site that hosted the material. Screw them.
    • I would stop doing business in countries that don't seem to understand the difference between a search engine that indexes the internet and the original site that hosted the material. Screw them.

      I'm quite sure the court did perfectly understand the difference. But Google makes lots of money from its search engine, so the court expected Google to use some of that money to remove search results that pointed to websites defaming this man. The court didn't even expect Google to actively search and remove such search results, just to remove them when requested by the plaintiff's lawyer.

    • by ron_ivi (607351)

      don't seem to understand the difference between a search engine that indexes the internet and the original site that hosted the material.

      Slippery slope, though. Google decided they want to add the ability to censor content. For one example, back when they wanted to do business in china, google.cn was able to spin results the way that government wants ( http://blogoscoped.com/archive/2009-06-04-n13.html [blogoscoped.com] )). No doubt they do similar censorship for other regionally outlawed content too.

      Once they add such censorship features, they're not really a content-neutral search engine anymore.

    • by Shavano (2541114)

      Not doing business in Australia would cost Google money.

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by jschrod (172610)
      I'm not from AUS, so this is 2ndary info.

      Some site had misleading info labeling an innocent as criminal.

      Said innocent succeeded in getting the site to remove respective material.

      Google still delivered incriminating material through its search results.

      Complaining to Google didn't help. (As far as it's reported, it seems that represseive dictatorships like China hav no problem complaining to Google and get a reaction; but that course ain't available for a private person.)

      Successfully suing Google mi

  • Aside from the logistical nonsense of charging Google for indexing someone else's images, how is it defamation if it's true? I mean, there's photographic evidence in this case...
    • by deniable (76198)
      Truth isn't a complete defense for defamation. Where's the public interest?
    • by mdmkolbe (944892)

      In England, truth is not an absolute defense against defamation like it is in the USA. Maybe the same is true in Australia?

      • by gabebear (251933)
        It's pretty screwed up that anyone could lose $200K for saying something thats true; sounds like the English/Australians should petition their governments. I'm glad I have no legal ties to those countries.
      • No, in Australia if the alleged defamatory statement is substantially true then that is a complete defence.

        Justification: It is a complete defence to an action for defamation to prove that the defamatory statement is substantially true.Substantial truth means that provided the justification meets the substance of the imputation, minor inaccuracy will not exclude the defence. The publisher’s motive is irrelevant, if the publisher can show that the imputation is true then it does not matter that he/she was motivated by malice. http://www.law.uts.edu.au/comslaw/factsheets/defamation.html [uts.edu.au]

        I don't see how publishing an unfaked photograph of two people together can be defamatory: every police or court official caught in a photo with a criminal would have a defamation case. However, I can see it is as defamatory of the caption you associate with the published picture says, "Bloggs is bosom buddies with a gangland boss." if that statement is not true. I could also see a technical argument

        • by Miseph (979059)

          " it was launched at the biggest cash cow not the sanest target."

          I dunno, targeting the biggest cash-cow sounds quite sane to me. Not particularly fair, possibly unreasonable, but definitely sane.

    • by bug1 (96678) on Monday November 12, 2012 @08:55PM (#41962875)

      Its not true that he is an underworld figure, yet his image (not the underworld figure) and accompaying story stated that he was.

      The summary didnt mention that someone hired a hitman to kill him due to the mistaken identity, he was shot but survived.

      Still, its debatable how much responsiblity google should shoulder for further promoting the defemation.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        +1 to this please!
        In short, a google search linked this man to the underworld and subsequently he was shot in the head, but survived.

        I'm all for people taking responsibility for their own doings but this guy was SHOT IN THE HEAD as a result of being portrayed (by Google) as an underworld figure.

        What I find interesting is that google has developed algorithms that have automatically generated these links and the subsequent content delivered in the search result on this person. In this case the links and conte

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The summary didnt mention that someone hired a hitman to kill him due to the mistaken identity, he was shot but survived.

        That's because the above statement is completely false.

        The article linked mentions that the shooting occurred years before but does not establish the importance of the shooting.
        Another article (http://dsm-publishing.com/australian-man-wins-landmark-case-against-google/) explains the significance of the shooting: his picture was put on the Melbourne Crime website when he was shot in Melbourne. The criminal figure Tony Mokbel was invovled in crime in Melbourne. Get it? Melbourne. Crime.

  • by Shavano (2541114) on Monday November 12, 2012 @07:59PM (#41962371)
    Was he not actually standing next to the well-known douchebag? Was he photoshopped in?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      My understanding was that when you typed in his name, Google found images of him from various websites as well as images from other websites of known underworld felons and put the thumb nails of these images side by side. The inference being that he was associated with these underworld felons.

      Its seems he then asked Google to modify its searches to dissassociate him with these underworld figures and they refused.

      Legal proceeding followed and the courts found that by their search engine associating his

      • by Xenx (2211586)

        So he ends up with a bit over AUD $425k (USD $441) for his trouble.

        I find the lack of "k" in the USD humorous.. completely untrue, but humorous.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Monday November 12, 2012 @08:07PM (#41962445) Homepage

    I'm guessing hundreds of thousands of people just like me have been googling this guy's name.

    Of interest, I found this image:

    http://ozsoapbox.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/michael-trkulja-original-herald-sun-hitman-article-2007.jpg [ozsoapbox.com]

    This guy is clearly one of "those people." Sorry, but I just don't have respect for them. I'm not going to bother defining for anyone what I mean by "those people" but I will say that "those people" tend to somehow think they can control information and by extension opinions and even thought. I'm sorry, but we live in a world with "an internet" now. Information is inherently free and free-flowing. He's a media person. He hasn't accepted that information... data... media...content... it's all out there and it cannot be controlled without pulling the plug on it. And humanity will not stand for it.

    • Well, duh. He's a criminal or hitman or something. Google it.

      Clearly he thinks he can strong-arm the legal process as he does with everyone else in his life.

    • Your deep-link to the image will get bounced to a "I steal images from ozsoapbox.com" If you want to see what the parent-post pointed to, it's just a picture of the guy's face in a 500x449 JPEG image, with a dateline of November 20, 2007, 12:00am and text below the headline saying "Former music promoter Michael Trkulja was shot in the back by a hitman waring a balaclava while dining at a St Albans restaurant in 2004." So the incident was 2004, the news article is 2007, and the lawsuit culmination (witho
  • by viperidaenz (2515578) on Monday November 12, 2012 @10:37PM (#41963733)
    He has defamed himself. His actions have labeled him as a retard.
    • Yeah, winning 200000 dollars is a really stupid move. And winning a similar amount from Yahoo is also really stupid. I mean this man, being able to get a nice amount of money and get some search engines to stop associating his name with crime, is totally retarded. Any sensible person would have said, "yeah, I'm being associated with criminals when people search for my name, nothing wrong with that, and who needs money anyway?". Right?

    • by sabbede (2678435)
      Unless its a fake photo or a collage, I don't see how anyone has defamed his reputation other than himself.
  • What would be really interesting is if Tony Mokbel sued Google for ruining his criminal reputation.
  • So, on one hand they want search engines to not doctor the search results, but on the other hand they want search engines to doctor search results when those results would show someone from a "negative" (which generally means "real") perspective. Nothing new under this sun.
  • As they seem to want to filter the internet I want left unfiltered?
  • If I'm carrying a piece of glass, and I happen to pass by a naked woman, would I get arrested for indecent exposure through my window?

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