Email Content Attribution Policy Global Freedom of Expression is an academic initiative and therefore, we encourage you to share and republish excerpts of our content so long as they are not used for commercial purposes and you respect the following policy: Attribute Columbia Global Freedom of Expression as the source.
Link to the original URL of the specific case analysis, publication, update, blog or landing page of the down loadable content you are referencing. Attribution, copyright, and license information for media used by Global Freedom of Expression is available on our Credits page. Galloway had asserted that he had a good arguable case that Google could be found liable for the video because of its failure to remove it expeditiously.
Facts The applicant, George Galloway, a prominent British politician, brought suit with regard to several YouTube videos that were posted by the defendant, William Frederick Frazer, a political activist from Northern Ireland. They also brought legal action against Google Inc. One of the videos had been immediately removed but another had stayed up for up to three weeks before first being blocked for viewers in Northern Ireland, and then removed completely. Google appealed to the High Court of Northern Ireland, seeking to set that decision aside.
Decision Overview The Court took note of the two main mechanisms YouTube had for dealing with material which it found to be unlawful: Flagging involves users flagging a video as inappropriate. YouTube then reviews the video and decides whether it violates its policies and community guidelines. Legal removal on the other hand applies when there is breach of copyright or defamation.
There had not been a full exposition of these methods before the Court and Mr Justice Horner noted that he was not certain about exactly how YouTube carried out its reviews or the amount of resources devoted to these processes. He nevertheless opined that as a profit-making company, Google could be expected to devote sufficient resources to ensure that it does not permit YouTube to be misused to upload defamatory videos which then remain available to the public for unreasonable periods of time.
With regard to defamation, the Court examined whether the fact that Google had taken 23 days after notice of one of the defamatory videos was too long. The Court held that to determine what constitutes a reasonable period of time, it should consider the nature of the allegations made.
It considered whether Google, in operating YouTube, acted as a data controller or merely as a data processor for the purposes of the Data Protection Act The Court noted that this was a controversial issue in a developing area of law that would be heavily dependent on the facts of the case as interpreted by the trial judge. The other causes of action were abandoned by the plaintiff. The Court concluded by holding that it would grant leave to serve Google, Inc.
Decision Direction Quick Info Decision Direction indicates whether the decision expands or contracts expression based on an analysis of the case. The decision establishes a binding or persuasive precedent within its jurisdiction. Although High Court decisions are not binding, this is nevertheless persuasive precedent.
As the Court held, this is a developing area of law. The Court held that Google Inc. Coming on the heels of various other cases on the liability of Internet companies, many of which are quoted in the judgment, it further indicates the direction in which the law is developing.