Apr 262010
 April 26, 2010  Posted by  Court, Featured News, Non-U.S., Online

Google has been fined $US8500 ($9100) in Brazil after an anonymous internet user posted defamatory messages on one of its sites against a priest, calling him a “paedophile”, media reported on Sunday.

A court in the state of Minas Gerais ruled in favor of the 54-year-old priest, identified by his initials J.R., after rejecting Google’s argument that the US web giant was not responsible for what users posted on its Orkut social networking site.

The verdict upheld a lower court’s judgment made after the priest sued for defamation in 2008 over the post, which called him “the paedophile … the thief who has a lover”, the O Globo daily reported.

“By making space available on virtual networking sites, in which users can post any type of message without any checks beforehand, with offensive and injurious content, and, in many cases, of unknown origin, [Google] assumes the risk of causing damage [to other people],” judge Alvimar de Avila said.

Read more on SMH.

So now both Italy and Brazil have convicted Google over content posted by users. In the Italian case, the executives were tried criminally but not sentenced to any jail time. In this case, the charges were civil, and $8500 doesn’t amount to much of a fine.

It seems like Google is not having much luck getting non-U.S. courts to accept the principles underlying the CDA that immunizes service providers for content posted by third parties. So what will they do? If the fines are small and isolated, maybe Google will just chalk them up as the cost of doing business. But what if everyone in Brazil who thought they had been defamed by an anonymous poster sued Google? What would Google do then? And suppose every time a privacy-invading video was uploaded to Google Video from an Italian IP, Google executives were charged criminally. What would Google do then?

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