One English company is trying to take Google to court over its inclusion of sites in the Google database which libel the company dotWORLDS. dotWORLDS has filed a ‘pre-action protocol’, threatening to sue Google if the search engine does not exclude such sites from its index.
Brian Renkin, the plantiff, says that Google has removed such sites in the past from its Google UK index, but has reincluded them. According to Renkin, this leaves Google open to legal action.
According to Retkin, anonymous third-parties have posted libel about dotWORLDS for several years, maliciously claiming that the company used the September 11 terrorist attacks to promote its domain name registration business. Since 2003, he says, Google has removed various posts to its own discussion groups at his request, but its search engine continues to turn up links to offensive third-party sites. If Google doesn’t give him a written promise to permanently remove the links, he plans to sue.
Linking to offensive material may not be such a big deal in the US, but this suit would take place in the British courts and according to the Register, may fall under the British Defamation Act 1996, where a search engine can claim it was unaware of libelous material turning up on its showing in its search results.
Retkin feels that Google will not be covered under this Defamation Act because it knowingly removed the libelous content, then reindexed it, and responded to Retkin’s numerous requests.