Google has been found guilty of libel in a case brought against it in 2009 by music promoter Milorad Trkulja.
Trkulja filed his suit against Google when the internet search giant refused to take down links to website articles promoting libelous claims Trkulja was connected to organized crime in Melbourne.
At the time, Google advised Trkulja to contact the sites on which the offensive materials were posted, as those webmasters controlled the content, and Google merely posted search results based on its analytics.
However, the Supreme Court of Victoria found Google was responsible for removing the damaging links the moment Trkulja asked it to remove the content.
Don't fine the messenger
As a result of the jury's decision in the case, Google will have to pay AUD$200,000 (UK£130,000, US$208,000) in damages to Trkulja.
According to the judgment, the jury had little else to do but find Google guilty of the charges presented as a result of its own search engine.
"The jury were entitled to conclude that Google Inc. intended to publish the material that its automated systems produced, because that was what they were designed to do upon a search request being typed into one of Google Inc.'s search products.
"In that sense, Google Inc. is like the newsagent that sells a newspaper containing a defamatory article. While there might be no specific intention to publish defamatory material, there is a relevant intention by the newsagent to publish the newspaper for the purposes of the law of defamation."
Google plans to appeal the ruling, but if that motion is denied, the ramifications for the internet (at least in Australia) could be massive.
If Google is seen as the responsible party for search results it publishes, it could face similar take-down claims from others in the future.
Google's stance has been upheld in other courtrooms across the globe, so it's worth watching to see how this appeal plays out, and whether or not it impacts future rulings involving Google.
Via Gizmodo UK
Sign up to receive daily breaking news, reviews, opinion, analysis, deals and more from the world of tech.