Milorad “Michael” Trkulja, a Melbourne resident, claims that on searching for ‘Melbourne criminal underworld photos’, the results display his picture alongside the gangland figures
An Australian man has won the first battle to sue the search engine giant, Google, for defamation since Google’s images and search results link him to the Melbourne criminal underworld.
Milorad “Michael” Trkulja, a Melbourne resident, claims that on searching for ‘Melbourne criminal underworld photos’, the results display his picture alongside the gangland figures like Mick Gatto, Carl Williams, Chopper Reid, Mario Condello and Mark and Jason Moran.
As per a report by ABC, in 2004, Trkulja was shot in the back in a Melbourne restaurant by an unknown gunman, when a series of underworld killings had taken place in the city. Trkulja claims that his photos circulated post the shooting incident are probably linking him to the search.
He had first sued Google for defamation in 2012 and won. He then began another proceeding where he alleged that ‘defamatory text, autocomplete predictions and images showed him alongside convicted felons when searching phrases such as "Melbourne underworld criminals".’
Four years later, a Victorian Court of Appeal overturned the decision since the case had no prospect of proving defamation. Trkulja moved the High Court who granted him the right to sue Google and ordered the company to bear Trkulja’s legal costs. Google’s lawyers claimed that the search engine had not published any defamatory search results and was entitled to immunity. However, the High Court felt otherwise.
While the Court acknowledged that some of the images were not criminal figures, the judgement said, “But in each of the pages on which images of such persons appear, there are also images of persons who are notorious criminals or members of the Melbourne criminal underworld … coupled with images of persons, such as Mr Trkulja whose identity is relatively unknown.”According to legal experts, this case might offer further clarity on the application of defamatory laws for online content.