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Supreme court judgments

Supreme court judgments

By Professor Greg Reinhardt

Courts Judgment Justice 

Whether owner of internet search engine is a publisher of the results of searches - Defteros v Google Inc LLC [2018] VSCA 176 (unreported, 25 July 2018, No S APCI 2018 0081, Beach, Hargrave JJA and Sifris AJA).
The question of whether the owner of an internet search engine is a publisher of the results of searches for the purpose of a claim in defamation against that person is obviously an important one in the context of such a claim.
The matter has been considered by the Full Court of the Supreme Court of South Australia in Google Inc v Duffy (2017) 129 SASR 304 and quite recently by the High Court in Trkulja v Google LLC [2018] HCA 25. In the latter case, the High Court said, on an appeal in relation to an interlocutory application to set aside a defamation proceeding and service on the defendant outside the jurisdiction, that the judge at first instance “was correct to hold that it is strongly arguable that Google’s intentional participation in the communication of the allegedly defamatory results to Google search engine users supports a finding that Google published the allegedly defamatory results” ([2018] HCA 25 at [38]). [It is important to emphasise that the Court was concerned with an interlocutory application. It decided for the purpose of the application to set aside the proceeding and service outside the jurisdiction that the judge at first instance was entitled to hold that it was strongly arguable that the defendant was the publisher, not that it was the publisher.]

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