Google and Yahoo have won a defamation lawsuit brought against them in Argentina by local entertainer Virginia Da Cunha. The singer and actress claimed that the two search engines were guilty of defamation by including links to adult entertainment sites in search results for queries related to her name.An Argentinian appeals court found that the two search engines were not guilty of defamation and overturned a lower court decision which ordered the two to pay $50,000 in damages each as well as remove any link to 'dubious' sites.
The appeals court believed that the two search engines could not be held liable unless requests to remove 'illegal' content would have been ignored, which is not the case. The plaintiff will appeal the ruling to the Argentine Supreme Court.
It is hardly the first such case in the country, in fact, about 130 similar lawsuits have been filed, but most are still ongoing. The New York Times says just two such cases have been resolved.
In much of the 'free' world, internet companies are not liable for third-party or user-generated content. This is true for sites that actually host the content, like YouTube, and it's especially true for those that simply link to other sources.
This is not the case in Argentina where many local celebrities have been able to mandate the search engines with removing content they didn't agree with.
Google has said that it can't comply with such requests and it can't know which websites are defamatory and which aren't so it won't remove content except by explicit request.
Yahoo on the other hand simply removes all search results for that particular person. Currently, searches for "Virginia Da Cunha" on Yahoo.ar yield no search results but a notice about the injunction.
"During a court order requested by private parties, we have been forced to temporarily waive some or all of the results related to this search," the translated notice says.