Google Immunized for Its Search Results–Mmubango v. Google (Catch-up Post)

By Eric Goldman

Mmubango v. Google, Inc., 2013 WL 664231 (E.D. Pa. February 22, 2013). The initial complaint.

shutterstock_127416605.jpgThis is one of the many bogus pro se lawsuits over Google search results. Like the others, it goes nowhere (though the judge patiently let the plaintiff file a third amended complaint). The plaintiff claims he was being defamed on a third party website and he asked Google to de-index the website but it refused. So he sued Google for defamation.

This is an easy 47 USC 230 case:

1) Google provides an interactive computer service (cites to Parker, Langdon, Jurin).

2) The plaintiff seeks to hold Google responsible for content from the third party website (cite to Carafano). The court says the plaintiff “alleges that Google “stored” and “broadcasted” the information.”

3) The plaintiff seeks to hold Google as a publisher of the third party content (cites to Green v. AOL, Parker, Zeran v. AOL and Ben Ezra v. Weinstein)

The court summarizes:

Google cannot be held liable for state law defamation on the facts that it “decided” to publish a third party’s statements, which has been identified by the Third Circuit as a traditional editorial function. In the same vein, Google cannot be held liable for failing to withdraw this statement once it has been published.

In a footnote, the court rejects the plaintiff’s assertion of “aiding and abetting,” but it doesn’t cite any of the numerous precedents supporting that conclusion, such as the Backpage case, Simmons v. Danhauer, Cisneros v. Yahoo, Goddard v. Google, Dart v. Craigslist and Doe v. GTE.

Some similar cases:

* Nieman v. Versuslaw / Getachew v. Google

* Murawski v. Pataki

* Maughan v. Google

[Photo Credit: The computer screen reads, ‘Soul Search, No Results’. // ShutterStock]