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Feb 8, 2008
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Australian Real Estate Agents File Defamation Claim Against Google

Two real estate agents in Victoria, Australia have filed suit against Google. Mark Forytarz & Paul Castran claim defamation due to articles painting them in a negative light that can be found on the search engine. So…they’re filing suit for links. Here are Mark Forytarz’ search results.

The articles, found on Melbourne Indymedia, claim that Mark Forytarz bullied a mentally challenged man into selling his home in order to earn a $200k+ commission. The article further alleges that Paul Castran used fake bidders to inflate the prices of properties he sold.

Forytarz & Castran claim that the article paints them both in a negative light, and that they have suffered embarrassment & humiliation as a result. They asked Google to remove the links to the article a year ago, but Google did not comply.

So…this begs a few questions:

1) Why aren’t they suing Melbourne Indymedia? (Could it be a lack of Google-deep pockets?)
2) Why haven’t they launched a counter-PR campaign, explaining their side of the story?
3) How has this not been thrown out of court?

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29 comments so far
  • Fri Feb 8, 2008 at 12.06 pm

    This is absolutely ludicrous, google does not have time to remove individual links. I highly doubt e-mail addressed to google even gets looked at.

  • Vinod
    Sat Feb 9, 2008 at 2.35 am

    Australians are just weird. That’s why it hasn’t been thrown out of court. The bottom line as every one probably realizes is that these guys are suing Google because they didn’t remove the links, but why should it be up to Google to take them down? If they would win this case does anyone even recognize the repercussions of such a verdict?

    Information would be scarce as everyone would care about lawsuits! I doubt they would win anything, but I don’t think it would be thrown out of court so fast in a place like Australia. Like I said they are weird. They don’t think about the repercussions 1st, they listen to the case 1st, and think about how it will affect the world 2nd.

  • LOL!
    Sat Feb 9, 2008 at 2.40 am

    Crooked AND stupid.

    There is no way they will win this. Google will just say that they only let you search, they have no responsibility for what is posted on the intenetz. And they will win.

  • Dave
    Sat Feb 9, 2008 at 2.49 am

    Well, I guess now that their real-estate careers are over they have got to turn a buck somehow…

    Any court with a ounce of search engine experience should understand that Google did not publish this information.

    I guess that there hoping google will settle…

  • Steve O
    Sat Feb 9, 2008 at 3.08 am

    It’s not just Australians:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/google-sued-over-defamatory-postings-found-on-web-search-455172.html

    I also remember reading about a guy who wanted to sue because google links showed an image of one of his clients that he owned the copyright to and so they couldn’t show it. Where did the image link come from? His own site… doh…

  • tom
    Sat Feb 9, 2008 at 3.14 am

    I think whether or not they have the time to remove the links is irrelevant. They should in no way alter their search results for this. (even if the guy wasn’t absolute scum)
    I the “Streisand Effect” on this will be awesome.

  • Dave
    Sat Feb 9, 2008 at 3.28 am
  • Sat Feb 9, 2008 at 3.37 am

    Sorry folks my little vinod said Australians are just weird.

    He also doesn’t realize there are precedents for things called liable that allows such things to be heard.

    It would be interesting to see if a company like google that can filter the internet to not allow folks like the Chinese the ability to see things being censored, to have to censor what could be viewed as illegal conduct by strangers.

    I would not be surprised if they won this, they have been sued in this regard in France and other European countries due to stricter privacy laws than folks have in the US.

    This is not too dissimilar to why Tom Cruise’s unauthorized biography is being successully banned in different countries as the COS is using these same laws.

    Now Vinod get to your room.

  • haha
    Sat Feb 9, 2008 at 3.42 am

    SMS sent. I think this was a real dumb move and it’s backfired badly. All it’s done is drawn massive amounts of attention to the article and seems to backup the alligations that these blokes are simply no good. Nice to see karma in action.

  • Jon
    Sat Feb 9, 2008 at 4.52 am

    A non-story tbh – they wont win

    Oh, and the Tom Cruise book (see comments) isn’t banned – is simply hasn’t been released in OZ/UK etc

  • jj
    Sat Feb 9, 2008 at 6.10 am

    LOL thanks for the email. i let him know what i thought:

    Hello, my name is Jake Henderson, and I would like to make an enquiry please.

    Yes I would like to know why you dont realize how much of a douchebag you are, and that it is YOUR fault that a search for your company comes up with accusations of shoddy buisiness practices. It is highly ludicrous that you even think google gives the first iota of a flying crap about what you have to say, this is a court case you cannot win.

    But i gues as you are so clearly stupid that you cannot see this, and I apprectaite having gone out of luck with screwing people over, you need to get your money from somewhere.

    Might I suggest that place as a dustman, or perhaps dirty scag ridden prostitute.

    Good day you eternally sad and pathetic wanker.

  • go google
    Sat Feb 9, 2008 at 6.42 am

    My bet is that google will not settle because this could open the way to a flood of similar lawsuits against them. I reckon that these guys have kicked an own goal and are just wasting their money and google’s time.

    PS. DO NOT CLICK ON THE LINK ABOVE!

  • Australian
    Sat Feb 9, 2008 at 7.20 am

    Vinod: Australians are weird??? WTF are you talking about?

    It’s Americans who seem to sue everyone in sight! Lawsuits like this are rare in Australia, because WE think about the consequences (ie. it’s not all just about money). I also thought it was the Americans who didn’t think about consequences… ala Iraq War, Vietnam War, ‘War on terror’, George Bush winning 2 terms, etc. etc.

    These guys are obviously nuts if they think they’ll win.

  • angry aussie
    Sat Feb 9, 2008 at 8.19 am

    Americans might like to think that their law extends beyond the borders of their nation, or indeed, beyond the edge of the universe, but we actually do have our own laws here. Laws on defamation in Australia put the onus on the defamer to prove that what they are saying is true. Defamation laws are designed to protect people from slanderous allegations and claims (such as the sort of trash that passes for news in the majority of American gossip columns). It may be hard for Americans, with their cavalier, “say whatever I want” attitude to believe, but as a practising audio engineer in Australia for the last ten years, I have to say to you that it’s not that hard to stop and think “could I get sued for publishing this”. Google is no exception, or rather, should not be exempt from the law of the land in Australia. If a judge determines there is prima facie case to suggest the claims made within the allegedly defamatory article need to be proven – then it is perfectly within the bounds of australian law for him to issue an injunction to google and demand they take the link down until such time as the case is resolved.

    I would have thought you over litigious Americans might understand that perfectly well. After all – the Church of scientology abuses the very same privellige in the USA. Strangely, nobody else seems to “USE” it..

  • charles stokes
    Sat Feb 9, 2008 at 10.27 am

    Google–Isn”t it amazing the GOOFY people who are siding with google==Why-they are affraid They will loose out because of microsoft–Microsoft likes to control things–So alot of other controliing people just go along for the ride to the black hole in space!! Thats just where everything is eventuly going!!

  • Adam B
    Sat Feb 9, 2008 at 10.34 am

    @Angry Aussie:

    That still doesn’t make sense. Why is the lawsuit against Google? Google published NOTHING. If there is a lawsuit, it should be against who ever printed the articles in question. Google is just a search engine, and simply shows what is out there.

  • •••
    Sat Feb 9, 2008 at 11.30 am

    I’m gonna agree with Adam B on this one. Google is not performing the libel they are just displaying information posted by a different party. Seems to me like those particular Aussies caught a bit of American style “sue happy” greed. You know what would be a good idea? Let’s sue the one extremely good place to search until they can no longer offer to be a valued source of information. Then we can all be screwed! Fucking idiots. And Australians, don’t take offense to my posting, as I would call anyone a money hungry asshole for suing google, wherever they’re from.

  • None-really
    Sat Feb 9, 2008 at 2.42 pm

    Vinod said “Australians are wierd”. What he meant was “Americans dont understand anything outside America so that makes non-Americans wierd” and I have to agree with that.

    Having said that, I have to agree – if you are a scumbucket real estate sales person, you need outing. If the whole thing was false, they wouldnt have waited a year to let Google take it down even if Google agreed it would. I suggest the problem is that there people did as charged and are feeling the results. The link to this article should be sent to every Australian TV and radio station. That way, if they were innocent, they would have their 15 minutes of fame in order to put their case to the public and if they arent, they are damned in a big way.

    N.R.

  • Sat Feb 9, 2008 at 3.20 pm

    What a bunch of morons. Thats the dumbest thing I have ever heard.

    Now that they’ve opened this high profile lawsuit EVERYONE in the WORLD knows they are MORONS.

    And it’s got nothing to do with Australia. It’s got to do with IDIOTS.

  • Free Real Estate Blogs
    Sat Feb 9, 2008 at 4.19 pm

    Obviously no chance of victory and now the whole world will be viewing those links. Great move guys….

  • Kenny
    Sat Feb 9, 2008 at 9.37 pm

    All people are weird, not just us Australians. It’s all a matter of perspective. Just remember, there’s always someone out there that thinks you’re an idiot, so try not give them proof.

  • Sun Feb 10, 2008 at 8.26 am

    haha! this first caught my eye on Digg, and followed it here.
    Thankfully those guys arent ‘real’ lawyers.. or they just might have been able to get an annoying foothold on this. and where would our page ranks go then! :)
    cheers!

    …where would our page ranks go, while google spiders were suspended ;-)

  • Mon Feb 11, 2008 at 12.09 am

    I love it, I bet if they had their own websites filling the first page of a major keyword for themselves they would be showering google with love. I guess in a way it does suck because anyone with basic ot better SEO knowledge “Could” write fake stories and give you a lot of bad press although this doesn not seem to be the case with these guys.

  • Wed Feb 13, 2008 at 6.25 pm

    Hmm…showing something relevant in the results of a search…WHAT WERE THEY THINKING!? I wonder how the Australian justice system will handle it. But are the articles TRUE?

  • Thu Feb 14, 2008 at 9.26 pm

    Another ridiculous law suit! There are thousands of them filed everyday. It does make you wonder how so many of them are allowed to proceed. It seems the justice system is one hand feeding the other.

  • Tue Feb 19, 2008 at 5.08 pm

    Well Well Well People!!!
    I tell ya what. Since i move to Australia the only think i hear around me is ppl suing ather ppl to get the money.
    A very bad habbit and pour Australian think. You wont see it anywhere else.
    Australia is 20-30 years back totady. And will never be todays country. You know why? Because they are stuppid and they don’t know how to do it unless someone tell them or see it from others.
    Take the Internet, (20 20 yeasr back), take the Australian roads, (no money for them, but we pay freaking high road rates every year), and finaly take the system. Since Howard came up this country whent more and more down. After 12 years finaly the Australians found out the need to change their government. This is Is AUSTRALIA PEOPLE!!!! (WHERE THE BLODY ARE YOU? => Australian Turism Add) :)

  • Fri Feb 22, 2008 at 4.15 pm

    Wow. If they realy did get $200k in commission they should be punished. That is why we have rules in the US…As for Google, not sure they even have a play in the entire thing.

  • Mon Apr 14, 2008 at 12.36 pm

    That’s nuts…I’m wondering the same thing. Why are they suing Google and not the individuals that posted the information??!!??

  • Wed Apr 16, 2008 at 9.12 pm

    This begs the question: are the allegations TRUE? Usually the truth is the bullet-proof defense in these types of cases.

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