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Does Google Penalty Equate to Defamation?

The Kinderstart.com case has taken an interesting twist, as the judge decides whether receiving a 0/10 PageRank penalty from Google equate to the legal definition of defamation.

The judge asked whether Google has a free speech right to prioritize some sites over others in how it constructs computer formulas in its search system. “Assuming Google is saying that KinderStart’s Web site isn’t worth seeing. Why can’t they say that? That’s my question,” Fogel said.

Kinderstart is obviously grasping at straws here. If the judge rules that indeed a Google penalty equals defamation, that would set a dangerous precedent. It would take a brave judge to start interfering with what Google can and cannot do to search rankings.

Zillow Faces Attack Over Inaccurate Real Estate Estimates

CNET is reporting real estate info site, Zillow, has had an FTC complaint filed against it for posting misleading home pricing estimates.

In its complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, the National Community Reinvestment Coalition states that Zillow is “intentionally misleading consumers and real-estate professionals to rely upon the accuracy of its valuation services despite the full knowledge of the company officials that their valuation Automated Valuation Model (AVM) mechanism is highly inaccurate and misleading.”

I think the claim is bogus. Zillow is just a research site. You can’t sue it for publishing real estate estimates, anymore than you can sue Jupiter or Nielsen for their research studies.

Google’s Belgian Battle: Mountain or Molehill?

Business Week takes a look at what’s at stake in the battle between Google and Belgian publishers.

It’s an interesting read, especially when the publishers concede they’re getting a lot of traffic from Google then go on to use that as evidence the company needs to be stopped.

Since the Belgian court decision went into effect and Google dropped IPM publications, traffic to the company’s sites has dropped about 15%, le Hodey concedes. Yet that only strengthens his sense that Google should be checked before it gets even more powerful.

BW also gives us an explanation of what the Europeans are trying to create with their Robots.txt alternative.

…a set of sophisticated software “tags” readable by search engines’ Web crawlers that would automatically tell aggregators under what terms they can use editorial content.

Google Explains the Ridiculousness of Belgian Ruling – Round 6

Google’s taken the opportunity to explain their side of the recent Belgian court ruling.

Here’s precisely why the court case is somewhat ridiculous…

…showing snippets of text and linking users to the websites where the information resides is what makes them so useful. And after all, it’s not just users that benefit from these links but publishers do too — because we drive huge amounts of web traffic to their sites.

Google Posts Belgian Ruling on Website – Round 5

Take a close look at the Google.be site, that will likely be the most text you ever see on a Google homepage, as Google complies with a court ruling to post the entire text of the judgement.

Google Loses Belgian Court Appeal – Round 4

It looks like Google has lost its appeal to overturn a Belgian court ruling requiring the company to publish, in full, the first court ruling. Follow that?

Google plans to continue its appeals.

Google Fights Belgian Ruling – Round 3

While Google has complied with part of a recent Belgian court ruling – removing news stories from Belgian publishers – it’s fighting the requirement to display the court ruling, in full, on its homepage.

“We can confirm that we have lodged an opposition [to the ruling],” said Caroline Coesemans, an attorney for Stibbe, a Brussels-based law firm representing the US Internet giant.

“We argued that posting the link on the home page in Belgium is unnecessary given how much publicity this court case and the judge’s decision have received,” Google spokeswoman Rachel Whetstone said.

It does seem a little petty of the judge to ask Google to post the ruling in its entirety. Surely a link to the ruling would suffice.