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Removing Libel from Browser Search Results

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Removing Libel from Browser Search Results

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Internet postings, whether truthful or defamatory, tend to take on a life of their own. A federal court in Pennsylvania recently gave a successful defamation plaintiff the right to ask Internet search engines to remove defamatory content.

Shortly after purchasing the domain <brand.com>, Richard Gorman found he and his business became the subject of allegedly libelous posts. Gorman was able to identify, then sue Karl Steinborn (among others) for defamation. Steinborn failed to answer and Gorman obtained a default judgment against him. The court entered a permanent injunction against Steinborn that included the following clause:

“Plaintiff [Gorman] may submit this Order to internet search engines, including but not limited to Google, to have this link [to the defamatory content] removed from internet search results . . . which defame Plaintiff both personally, and professionally.”

Whether the order will effectively remove the libelous content remains to be seen, but it represents a step in the right direction for online defamation plaintiffs. Access the court’s order here. Contact us at Ossian Law P.C. regarding any information technology law question.

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