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Australia: Google is not Liable for Defamation in Google Search Results

Client Updates / Aug 30, 2022

Written by Haim Ravia and Dotan Hammer

The High Court of Australia found Google not liable for allegedly defamatory content in an article linked in a Google search result. The court’s majority opinion held that Google only serves as a “library” for the article and has no active role in this context.

The case came about from a lawsuit filed by a criminal defense attorney, whom the article accused of becoming a “confidant” of criminals. An Australian State Court found Google to be the “publisher” of the article, and therefore liable for defamation. The lower court ordered Google to pay AUS $40,000 (about US $28,000) in compensatory damages. Google immediately appealed the judgment.

The High Court agreed with Google’s appeal, ruling that Google should not be liable for an article written by a reporter not associated with Google and published by an independent newspaper, whom Google has no control or influence over.

CLICK HERE to read the High Court of Australia’s ruling in the case of Google LLC v Defteros.