The Supreme Court of Victoria today handed down its damages judgment in an online defamation case brought against Google Inc and Google Australia.

The man, Mr Trkulja, was falsely identified as being a criminal on the internet. In particular, when one performed a search using the Google search engine the resulting pages showed an image of Mr Trkulja’s appearing next to images of known criminals along with the headings “Melbourne Crime” and “Shooting probe urged November 20, 2007”. Google argued that they were not the publisher of the material and, alternatively, if they were, they were entitled to the defence of innocent dissemination.  The civil jury, however, held that Google was a publisher of the material and the defence of innocent dissemination was not open to Google from the time that it became aware of the material (the man wrote to Google asking that the material be taken down but Google didn’t take it down). Google Inc has been ordered to pay the man $200,000 in damages.

The case, Trkulja v Google Inc LLC & Anor (No 5) [2012] VSC 533, can be read here.