As a lawyer, you will be aware that changes in technology force legislators and the judiciary to play catch up on putting in place a legal framework that encompasses the new reality. You would not be surprised to learn, therefore, that the World Wide Web is a concern for legislators and it also opens new reasons for litigation arising from new avenues for abuse. This week, then, the SEO Roundup looks at some important cases revolving around search engines that could change the face of litigation.
The EU seems to be more inclined to file lawsuits against Web-based firms than the United States. This is probably because most of the organizations in question are American and the US administration is happy to allow these corporations to operate unfettered as long as they make money for the government’s coffers and improve the country’s technology profile. This Search Engine Land article illustrates the dangers from the threat of litigation that foreign governments pose to US-based search engines.
The EU has scored another hit against Google this week in a case brought by the supranational body against Google in the European Court of Justice. The search engine has been ordered to remove older entries from its results pages and also newer ones if the subject of one of those results objects to its existence. This, together with the anti-trust deal, shows how a ruling in one part of the world has to be applied in worldwide operations in order to avoid hefty fines and possible imprisonment.
Back in the USA, this article from Search Engine Roundtable explains a recent case, wherein a law firm sued its SEO advisors because they used methods that broke the code of practice that Google expects. Google is becoming freer with its penalty notices and this law firm realized that it could sustain long term damage to its rankings because of the devious tactics its SEO consultant were employing. This is an important development in reputation management.
An Argentinean model is suing Google and Yahoo to remove links in their results pages to a sex tape purported to feature her. These SERPS entries come in results from queries on the actress’s name, Maria Belen Rodriguez. Rodriguez already sued the producers of the tape and won; she has also already sued Google and Yahoo for damages in 2006 and won. The current case before the court is to force Google and Yahoo to de-reference the tape in relation to her name. This, together with the earlier related cases, has far reaching possibilities, opening up an entirely new market for litigation lawyers.
This story shows that Google was prepared to lose its case before the European Court of Justice over deleting older sites from their indexes. Almost immediately, they came up with an online form enabling complainants to request the removal of a reference. It remains to be seen whether this form is sufficient to block any claims against the search engine for inappropriate links. The company could argue that anyone who didn’t take up the option of requesting a removal automatically indicates approval.