Australian court rules Google is not a publisher but a search engine


An Australian court ruled that Google was a search engine and not a publisher of a defamatory article, siding with the tech giant in a lawsuit on Wednesday morning local time.

The big picture: It’s a win for Google in a years-long libel suit in which the company argued that article hyperlinks “only communicate that something exists…and that’s the operator of the page. Web that communicates the content to the user”.

Driving the news: George Defteros, a lawyer, previously sued Google, arguing that the publication of a 2004 article by Australian news outlet The Age about his arrest for conspiracy and incitement to murder defamed him. The charges were dropped in 2005.

  • Google had been notified of the defamatory article in February 2016, but only removed it in December 2016. Users accessed the article viewed 150 times during that time, according to the Newcastle Herald.
  • A court sided with Defteros and awarded him $40,000 in damages in 2020.
  • But the tech giant argued it was “just a browser and not a content publisher”, writes the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

What they say : “In reality, a hyperlink is only a tool which enables a person to navigate to another web page,” the High Court judgment said.

  • Google representatives did not immediately respond to Axios’ request for comment.

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