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Monday, April 1, 2013

Google is not liable for suggest search results also named as "autocomplete" results according to the Court of Milan (Italy) that overturned the approach taken by the same court in 2011 where Google had been deemed contributory liable for search results. 

Following the removal in the previous case of the terms "crook" and "scam" among the suggested results associated with the name of the claimant, further potentially offencive terms still were suggested in Google search results when users were searching the name of the claimant.

As in the previous case, the claimant based his claim on the fact that Google is a content provider and as such is liable also for the results automatically generated through its suggest search/autocomplete functionality. However, the Court held that Google is not a content provider, but a mere caching provider and its autocomplete functionality merely reproduces the results of the most popular user searches and the "related searches" service displays the results of indexed pages made accessible by Google through its search terms. 


The rationale of the court decision is that the autocomplete functionality is based on a predetermined algorithm that Google cannot influence and therefore as opposed to the activity of a content provider Google cannot determine the suggested search results. Based on the above, the Court held that the liability exemption set forth by the E-Commerce Directive as implemented in Italy is applicable to Google which does not have to monitor its suggested results and actively seek for illegal circumstances, but need to remove illegal contents only following a court order.


It seems to be a very good period for Google after the Vividown decision and more interesting this decision confirms also after the recent Google decision on searchable results and the Yahoo! case the qualification of search engine providers as caching providers by Italian courts.


It will be interesting to see where courts will set the limit of the lack of liability for search engine providers, but in the meantime if you want to talk about the above feel free to contact me, Giulio Coraggio.
Different Themes
Written by Giulio Coraggio

IT, gaming, privacy and commercial lawyer at the leading law firm DLA Piper. You can contact me via email at giulio.coraggio@gmail.com or giulio.coraggio@dlapiper.com or via phone at +39 334 688 1147.

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