Google Not Liable for Links to Defamatory Content, Top Australian Court Rules

SYDNEY—Australia’s highest court ruled that Alphabet Google isn’t liable for defamatory content that can be accessed via a hyperlink in its search results, a win for Google in a jurisdiction that has at times taken a hard line against tech platforms.

The case involved a lawyer, George Defteros, who alleged that a Google search of his name returned a hyperlink to and a snippet of a newspaper article that was defamatory. Lower courts found that the article implied Mr. Defteros had become a friend of criminal elements, and that Google could be considered a publisher of the article because the search result was crucial to communicating its contents to end users, court documents said. Google was ordered to pay damages of 40,000 Australian dollars, equivalent to $28,100.