Sunday, 10 October 2010

Google and Schmidt in the Dock

French court convicts Google and boss of defamation

PARIS — A Paris court has convicted US search engine giant Google and its chief executive Eric Schmidt of defamation over results from its "suggest" function, a French legal affairs website has revealed.

The new function, which suggests options as you type in a word, brought up the words "rapist" and "satanist" when the plaintiff's name was typed into the search engine, reported.

The plaintiff in this case had been convicted on appeal to a three-year jail sentence for corruption of a minor. He discovered the results on entering his name in a Google search...

The court concluded that the search engine's linking his name to such words was defamatory.

The court ruled that Google had not showed its good faith in the matter and ordered it to pay 5,000 euros (6,700 dollars) towards the plaintiff's costs.

The court ordered Google to make a symbolic payment of one euro in damages and take measures to ensure they could be no repeat of the offence.

Google say they would be appealing the ruling on the grounds that the Google Suggest function simply reflected the most common terms used in the past with words entered, so it was not Google itself that was making the suggestions.

The judgement in full, which was issued on September 8, is available at:

Not surprises that a French court should find against an American corporate giant. Also no surprise that the court doesn't understand the way the Interweb works. Or maybe, given the derisory damages awarded, it does...  RC