Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Another Suit Over Indexing

Not a copyright suit, but interesting nonetheless. Looks like a NJ contractor is suing Google for indexing and displaying critical comments about him from the Rip-Off Report (a clearinghouse for consumer complaints). According to 27B/6, when you search for the contractor's firm it is the first result, but the negative comments from Rip-Off Report is number two. After he asked that the page be removed and was rebuffed, he sued.

Obviously, CDA 230 immunity comes into play here, which immunizes a service provider for providing the defamatory content of another. And it's also worth noting that the contractor even admits that the project the comment references did in fact lead to litigation over shoddy work. Sure, having the second Google result for a search for your company be an embarrassing comment that will cost you business is bad. Is that Google's fault?

Two things to remember here. First, the Internet means that it's a lot tougher to hide your mistakes. Second, be careful that you don't draw more attention to yourself when you sue than if you merely accepted a snarky comment in Google's search results as a fact of life. When you search for the contractor's firm now, scores of blog posts referencing this story in the search results, in addition to the original post (though down to #6 as of this writing).
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