Google and Yahoo! held liable in gangland defamation cases

In 2012, two juries in the Supreme Court of Victoria found that Google and Yahoo! had defamed Mr Milorad ("Michael") Trkulja through image and web results generated from their search engines. As a result Mr Trkulja was awarded damages totalling $425,000.

Key Points

The decisions of Trkulja v Yahoo! Inc LLC & Anor [2012] VSC 88 and Trkulja v Google Inc LLC & Anor (No. 5) [2012] VSC 553 are interesting for a number of reasons. These cases:

  • are the first time search engines have been held to be publishers of defamatory material in Australia;
  • show the defence of "innocent dissemination" may only provide protection to a search engine up to the point a takedown notice is received; and
  • highlight that where material published by search engines is defamatory, the damages awards may be substantial. 

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For further information regarding this Update, please contact a member of our team:

Peter Keel

Norman Lucas
Peter Meades

Erin Hourigan