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Argentina: Google and Yahoo locked in legal battle with celebrities

Martin Leguizamon, 48, a Buenos Aires attorney, has taken on the local versions of Yahoo und Google on behalf of many of Argentina's best-known actors, models, sports personalities and judges. Initially he represented a group of about 70 fashion models and asked the search engines to block all search results with their names with the intent of blocking pornographic web sites that used the models' pictures. He succeeded in getting restraining orders. Yahoo and Google were ordered to censor search results from their Argentine sites for information about the plaintiffs. Then other public figures - including Maradona and the high-profile judge Marķa Servini de Cubrķa - have sought out the same lawyer to successfully block search results about them as well. In some cases, the restraining orders require Yahoo and Google to censor results for certain URLs or keywords. In other instances they call for broad restrictions such as censorship of defamatory or scandalous material.

Yahoo first tried to satisfy the orders by blocking content on a site-by-site basis. But as the scope of the orders grew, the company couldn't satisfy the courts. The fines pilled up, and Yahoo has resorted to blocking almost all sites involving the celebrities in question. The only exceptions are hyperlinks to major news media sites. If a user enters the name Maradona e.g., he will see a disclaimer in Spanish stating: "Due to a court order requested by private parties, we find ourselves obliged to temporarily suspend all or some of the results related to this search."

So far, Google Argentina isn't filtering as extensively as Yahoo! and hopes for successful appeals and the legislator to change the law.

Also see: Argentine search engines told to block famous names, Outlaw





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