Asia & Australia

June 14, 2018

Suit of defamation to be filed by Australian against Google over search results


An Australian man has filed for a defamation suit against internet giant Google. The Australian High Court has ruled in favour of Milorad Trkulja, the petitioner, supporting his claim that search engine results could indicate to an ordinary person he was "somehow associated with the Melbourne criminal underworld".

He said that Google was wrong on its part to publish pictures of Trkulja linked to hardened criminals of Melbourne’s underworld thereby giving the go-ahead to Trkulja to sue the internet giant.

Mr Trkulja, who was shot in the back in a Melbourne restaurant in 2004, contended effectively stating that Google defamed him by publishing photos of him linked to hardened criminals of Melbourne's underworld in the year 2012 at the Victorian Supreme Court.

Later, in the course of the court proceedings going on, came the judgement of the court, wherein the Victorian Court of Appeal overturned the decision on the grounds that the case had no prospect of successfully proving defamation. The High Court disputed that ruling and ordered Google to pay Trkulja’s legal costs.

Trkulja’s lawyer said that when one types or searches Google for “Melbourne criminal underworld photos”, it brings up images of Trkulja beside gangland figures to which Google representing lawyers said that it would be unreasonable to assume that a search made in Google for underworld figures would only show the criminals. The platform being such a wide one would also include Google logo, movie posters, images of crime victims and photos of actor Marlon Brando.

Giving the credit to the petitioner that maybe a picture of Brando may be evident enough to prove that he is not a criminal, someone as common as the petitioner would be misconceived as a criminal.

“I will sue Google ... and I will sue them till they stop. I want them to block my pictures,” he said. “I’m not a criminal, I’ve never been involved and I will make sure these people are not going to ruin my family — I have grandchildren,” Trkulja said.

Google said in a statement, "We will continue to defend the claim. We decline to comment further on ongoing legal matters."

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