Australian man sues Google over his image in search results

Judith Thompson

Milorad Trkulja (known as Michael) has been given permission by a Melbourne court to sue Google for defamation.

He argued in court that he should be allowed to bring proceedings against the corporate giant, as his photo appeared with photos of hardened criminals, when the term “Melbourne criminal underworld photos” was entered into the search engine. 

Google responded by saying it would be irrational to assume that someone performing the search would believe that all the images which appeared in the results were of criminals. Google highlighted the fact that other results also appeared, such as an image of Marlong Brando, Google’s own logo and other unrelated images.

The court's judgment was unanimous, and Google was ordered to pay Michael's costs. One of the judges said that if someone was using Google to search for images of Melbourne criminals, they would “rationally suppose” that some or all of the people whose pictures appeared in the search results were indeed criminals.

Whilst this case is Australian, and therefore does not bind the decision making of the courts in England & Wales, it could be used in our courts to argue that a similar judgment should be made, if substantially similar circumstances arise. 

Samuels Solicitors LLP are niche defamation experts, assisting clients with claims for libel and slander, in many cases on a conditional (no win no fee) basis. 

If you have been the victim of defamation, contact us today to discuss your matter.