Advanced Television

Google will appeal Italy convictions

February 25, 2010

YouTube owner Google says an Italian court's sentencing of three of its execs to suspended jail terms is “astonishing” and “outrageous”. The three, Google's chief legal officer, former CFO, and a senior product marketing manager, have been given suspended prison sentences.

The case concerned a video that showed a schoolchild being bullied for having Down's syndrome. Google removed the video but a public prosecutor indicted the executives. They were acquitted on defamation charges but were convicted on charges of violating the child's privacy, and received six-month suspended sentences.

“We will appeal this astonishing decision because the Google employees on trial had nothing to do with the video in question. It is outrageous that they have been subjected to a trial at all,” said Google.

The ruling, though, is on line with Italy's recent moves to treat all Internet video in the same way as broadcasters under the law. It does not accept You Tube or ISP arguments that they are merely platforms.

Google, though, maintains European law protects it as long as offending videos are taken down as soon as it is notified. But Italy disagrees. Last year a court made You Tube remove 5,000 clips belonging to Mediaset, the Competition Authority is investigating Google's use of newspaper content, and there is legislation proposed to make anyone using copyright material get prior permission.

The news comes as the European Commission is looking into complaints about Google’s search engine behaviour. Complaints were made by UK price comparison site Foundem, French legal search engine, and Microsoft’s Ciao. Foundem claims that its site is demoted in Google’s search results and those results favour Google's own services but doesn't point this out to the user.

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