Can Legal Issues Affect A Search Engine Result Page?
- Yes, it is possible that legal issues can affect a search engine result page. In fact sometimes it seems that nothing else does! For example, Google was sued by the Chinese government over the listing of some objectionable search results and were accused by Telenor’s of “illegally monopolistic behavior” after they changed their ranking algorithm to favor Google+ Local more than Telenor’s own listings.
- The bottom line is that legal issues can affect search engine results pages in many ways and the potential for this is constantly increasing with the spread of new technologies like social media, mobile devices, cloud computing, etc. Here are some specific examples:
- Search engines can be sued on grounds of defamation (libel or slander) for displaying particular search results that violate a person’s reputation. For example, Google was sued in Italy by an Italian music composer because his name (which he preferred not to disclose) appeared 4th in the list of results for “top 10 criminals” on Google explains William D King. Search engines can also be sued on grounds of invasion of privacy if their algorithms make it possible to identify a person or people based on certain personal information. For example, in 2010 AOL was sue because some search results about the plaintiffs contain their full names and current addresses while Google was force by a Canadian court’s ruling to remove any link containing another person’s name and address. Search engines can be sue for copyright if they reproduce content that is already protect by copyright without permission from its owner (e.g. scanning an entire book). Alos, Search engines can be sue for trademark infringement if they use trademarks as keywords or publish ads with those trademarks without authorization from their owners (this is also illegal cyber-squatting). Search engines can be liable for defamation of character or invasion of privacy when publishing sponsored links or ads that include third party trademarks. For example, in September 2011 Google announced that it has agreed to pay $500 million to settle the class action suits filed by Spoke for using personal profiles without permission.
- Some search engines claim immunity from lawsuits under certain laws designed to protect ISPs (internet service providers). The Communications Decency Act is one such law and was pass in 1996 in order to protect ISPs against defamation claims based on content that their users or customers put online. However this protection does not apply when a search engine creates the content itself (e.g., by selling ads with trademarks) or publishes someone else’s defamatory content either willfully or negligently. Search engines can also be sue if they fail to remove links containing defamatory information. After being notify by a court order or after learning about the existence of such links from a credible source.
- Sometimes legal issues affect how search engines rank pages in their results. For example, Google’s Page Rank algorithm was design to detect and demote websites. That were detect by Google’s analysis software to be selling counterfeit medication or fake university diplomas. January 2009 it was report that Google has been sue for this practice by web sites. That sell these items even though this is not necessarily illegal but rather misrepresented them in their domain registration information. In April 2010 these practices became more formalize. When Google announce the update of their anti-spam algorithms aim at decreasing rankings of websites. With excessive ads and reducing incentives for website owners. To generate uninteresting and unhelpful content says William D King.
- In addition to defamation and invasion of privacy, search engines can also be sue for copyright infringement. When they fail to remove copyrighted images or video clips that are accessible through their services. For example, in December 2012 Google was sue by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). For including BBC material within YouTube videos without authorization. The same occurred with Viacom which claimed $1 billion against Google’s YouTube division. Because it “turns a blind eye” to pirate content that is upload onto its servers. On January 5th 2013 US District Judge Louis Stanton ordered. That all lawsuits against YouTube by media companies should be centralize before him. In order for them to proceed as class action lawsuits on grounds of Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Another type of infringement that is sometimes pursue by copyright owners is search engines linking to websites. That contain links to copyrighted material without permission from its owners. In June 2009 several recording companies sued music streaming website Groove shark. Because Google search results included links to unauthorized copies of songs on the site. In March 2010 a U.S federal appeals court rejected the safe harbor provisions of DMCA. For this type of copyright infringement when applying to websites which generate their own content. Rather than merely pointing users towards other websites or hosting materials posted by third-parties.
Search engines are not just dumb pipes that find and organize information; they also get sued for what they do with this data explains William D King. There is no doubt that search engines can be sue. For defamation, invasion of privacy, copyright infringement and even antitrust violations. The question is whether or not these lawsuits will ever result in any changes to their ranking algorithm.