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Germany court orders Google to remove defamatory autocomplete results

The Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe [official website, in German] on Tuesday ordered [press release, in German] Google [corporate website] to remove defamatory autocomplete results if notified. The plaintiffs, an unidentified company selling nutritional supplements and its founder, claimed when their names were entered on Google's German-language website, autocomplete suggested links to Scientology and fraud which resulted in injury to the plaintiffs' reputations. The court held that although operators of search engines are not regularly required to verify content generated by algorithms is free of possible breaches, once operators become aware of unlawful violations of personal rights, they are responsible for removing content.

This defamation suit is the latest of the legal battles of Google and its subsidiaries. Last week, the European Commission [official website] sent a Statement of Objections informing Motorola Mobility, a subsidiary of Google, of its preliminary view that the company was abusing its injunctions [JURIST report] against Apple. Last month, Google agreed to provide clearer labeling [JURIST report] of promoted links in order to assuage the European Commission's antitrust concerns that the search engine was abusing its dominance in the market by favoring its own products. Also last month, a judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website] dismissed [JURIST report] a copyright infringement lawsuit by Viacom against YouTube, a subsidiary of Google, for clips that were posted on the website without authorization. Also in April, France, the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, and Italy initiated a joint legal action [JURIST report] against Google over its privacy policy, claiming that Google failed to inform customers about how much information the company has about them and how long the information is kept.

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