Links & Law - Information about legal aspects of search engines, linking and framing

Hyperlink & Search Engine Law News  Decisions & Court Documents Worldwide Legal Resources (Hyperlink & Search Engine Law Articles) Linking Law Cases Search Engine Law Publications by Dr. Stephan Ott Technical    Background

Netherlands: Webmaster can be held liable for Google snippet

On his web site, Joris van Hoboken mentiones an interesting preliminary judgement of the court in Amsterdam. A snippet in the Google result list suggested that the plaintiff was bankrupt, resulting in telephone calls from several users and a regional newspaper. Usually one would expect a lawsuit against Google, but in this case, the plaintiff went after the web master, who had written a text that was completly legal and tried to hold him responsible for the misleading combination of the sentences by Google. The court agreed, because:

- plaintiff had suffered damages by the snippet

- plaintiff had informed the defendant about the problem and asked him to fix it

- defendant had optimized his web site for search engines

- defendant could easily have changed his web site so that the snippet would also have changed.


What about freedom of expession? If, at all, one can be held resonsible for the snippet, it is Google. The court can't punish a web master, only because he optimizes his web site and has some knowledge about the functioning of search engines. He has no direct influence on the wording of the snippet. Even if he had changed his web site, there is no guarantee that the snippet would have changed too. If he had written "unable to pay his bills" instead of "bankrupt", where would be the advantage in a snippet suggesting the plaintiff was unable to pay his bills. If the defendat had to name the plaintiff in his text (for what reason whatsoether), how can a judge say that this has to be changed because of the conduct of an unrelated company (Google)? The defendant has appealed the decision.





The Links & Law website is updated regularily, so  check back for updated information and resources about search engine and linking issues.

You are currently in the archive with older news. A complete list of the updates can be found here!


Masthead/Curriculum Vitae
Copyright © 2002-2008 Dr. Stephan Ott 

All Rights Reserved.