Aug 16, 2022 - Technology

Australian court rules Google is not a publisher

Photo: Rolf Vennenbernd/picture alliance via Getty Images

An Australian court ruled that Google is 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 defamation suit in which the company argued that article hyperlinks "only communicate that something exists ... and it is the operator of the webpage who communicates the content to the user."

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

  • Google had been notified of the defamatory article in February 2016 but did not remove it until December 2016. Users accessed the article accessed 150 times in that time span, per the Newcastle Herald.
  • A court sided with Defteros and awarded him $40,000 in damages in 2020.
  • But the tech giant argued that it was "only a navigator and was not a publisher of content," the Australian Broadcasting Corporation writes.

What they're saying: "In reality, a hyperlink is merely a tool which enables a person to navigate to another webpage," the High Court's judgment said.

  • Representatives for Google did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.
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