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Australian court seeks $515,000 from Google for defamation

CANBERRA – An Australian court on Monday ordered Google to pay a former politician A$715,000 (US$515,000) over two defamatory YouTube videos.

John Barilaro, the former deputy premier of New South Wales, had sued Google and comedian Jordan Shanks, also known as friendlyjordies, in federal court over the videos.

Judge Steven Rares found that Barilaro was “the subject of a relentless, racist, abusive and defamatory campaign on YouTube,” a platform owned by Google.

Barilaro told reporters outside the Sydney court that he felt “validated” by the verdict.

“I’m emotional today. To hear his judiciary reread the rationale and the evidence and the case itself is a bit traumatizing,” Barilaro said.

“But I’m glad the journey is over. You have to be either brave or stupid to take on Google, and maybe it was a little bit of both,” Barilaro added.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.

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His attorney, Paul Svilans, said this is the only case he is aware of in which Google has been sued for defamation through its YouTube operation.

Barilaro would not have sued if Google had removed the videos uploaded in September and October 2020, as requested in writing in December this year, he said.

“Once they get our letter and we say it’s defamatory, it’s racist, you should take it down and they don’t take it down, then they’re hooked just like any other publisher,” Svilans said.

“You are a trillion dollar corporation that has enabled the publication of horribly racist material about John,” Svilans said.

The videos had been viewed tens of thousands of times and made thousands of dollars for Google, the judge said.

Google eventually dropped all of its defenses against Barilaro’s lawsuit. A four-day hearing in March focused only on the amount of damages Google would pay. Attorney’s fees will be reimbursed at a later date.

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Barilaro’s case against Shanks was settled in November last year when the comedian and political commentator apologized, agreed to pay AU$100,000 ($72,000) and edited the videos.

Shanks’ campaign was cited as a reason for Barilaro’s decision to retire from politics last year.

Rares, the judge, said Google has repeatedly failed to accept responsibility for its conduct as a publisher.

Google is fighting a decision by Victoria State Court in Australia’s highest court that found its search engine defamed Melbourne criminal underworld lawyer George Defteros.

Defteros successfully sued Google in 2020 for AU$40,000 ($28,800) because the search engine redirected traffic to a 2004 article published in The Age newspaper reporting that he was charged with conspiring and inciting the murder of gangland supporters had been charged.

The charges were dropped in 2005.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission.

https://www.local10.com/business/2022/06/06/australian-court-makes-google-pay-515000-for-defamation/ Australian court seeks $515,000 from Google for defamation

Sarah Y. Kim

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