Google has been ordered to pay damages of US$208,000 after an Australian man sued the company for defamation, accusing the Internet giant of making him look like a criminal in published pictures.
The case involves the online distribution of photos of 62-year-old promoter Milorad Trkulja, which allegedly suggested he was linked to gangster activities.
Trkulja was shot in the back in 2004 for reasons that were never clarified. The photographs that have been published online were claimed to portray him as a victim of a professional hit.
Google denied the validity of these claims, stating the material was not loaded by the company themselves and was circulated without intending harm, but the jury decided that the imagery was “grossly defamatory”. Judge David Beach reasoned that Google played a similar role in publication as a library or newsagent.
“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, according to News24.
Apart from the photo material, Trkulja’s name was also linked in searches with some of Australia’s most notorious gangsters, such as Tony Mokbel. Among the search results is the website address of an outdated gang-listing interface, called ‘Melbourne Crime’.
Trkulja received AU$225,000 (US$234,000) from Yahoo earlier this year as a result of the outcome of a similar defamation case he launched against them.
The Australian claims his reputation is “central to his work and had been seriously damaged by the defamatory material,” reported News24.