Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Our Justice Needs Some Tech Support

Last week the judge Mauro Caum Gonçalves (State Court: Rio Grande do Sul) proclaimed a sentence ordering a company that represents Google, Inc. in Brazil to pay the equivalent of 10,800 minimum wages (around US$ 2,000,000.00) to Deborah Pierini Cidade de Sá as indemnity for linking her name to that of a prostitute known as Bruna Surfistinha, who gained notoriety after publishing a book relating her sexual encounters.

According to the news, there were some pages that contained sentences like "naked fotos", "Bruna Surfistinha's sexual adventures" and "hot college girls" and Mrs. de Sá maiden name (Deborah Pierini Cidade) put toghether. These pages were not stored on Google's servers, nor was the company responsible for them.

It's OK that a person may try to have her/his name preserved from whatever s/he may find shameful (in this case, Mrs. de Sá felt that being somehow linked to Bruna Surfistinha would be harmful for her reputation), but it's clearly not Google's fault. They did not make the information up, they simply gathered information from 3rd parties and compiled it.

And it's certainly not the fault of the company that represents Google in Brazil (Montaury Pimenta Machado e Lioce SC. LTDA), and takes care of proper registration of Google's intellectual property in this country.

In Google's defense, they removed the entries from their database within 24hs after their representing partner was notified. A timely response for such a large company. There is NO reason for such a large fee. The sentence against Google is simply outrageous.

I think that the lack of technical information ultimately led the judge to make this unfortunate decision. If someone put up a website today linking both names again, sooner or later Google would index it. How could Google possibly know that this is in their index?

This case reminds me of the Daniela Cicarelli fiasco. When will they learn?!

Google can still appeal against the sentence, and will hopefully win in a higher court.

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