French suit asks Google to block certain search results

Bloomberg News | Google Europe Blog | TorrentFreak | Melville House | The Wall Street Journal

Lawyers for former Formula One President Max Mosley asked a French court to "block any further search results referring to a 'Nazi-themed' sex party." Google says such a move "would create unprecedented censorship on the Internet," Stephanie Bodoni reports.

The now-shuttered News of the World reported that Mosley engaged in such an party, but a British court found in July 2008 that the "five-hour sadomasochistic sex session with prostitutes" was not Nazi-themed and awarded him £60,000 (about $119,700 at the time). A French court added about £20,000 to the judgment in 2011 because some copies of the newspaper were sold in France.

Mosley is the son of a famous British fascist, Sir Oswald Ernald Mosley. In the video of his romp, he reportedly spoke in a German accent.

In a post on Google's Europe Blog, associate general counsel Daphne Keller says Google offers tools to people to remove pages that violate the law from search results. Filters, Keller writes, are "blunt instruments that jeopardise lawful expression and undermine users’ fundamental right to access information."

A set of words or images may break the law in one context, but be lawful in another. As an example, a filter might end up censoring news reports about Mr. Mosley’s own court case.

"This not just a case about Google, but the entire Internet industry," Keller writes. "If Mr. Mosley’s proposal prevails, any startup could face the same daunting and expensive obligation to build new censorship tools -- despite the harm to users’ fundamental rights and the ineffectiveness of such measures."

In other European media news, German publishers filed a criminal complaint against newspapers that named the URL of an ebook pirate site called TorBoox. "Their claim: by naming the site the publications had assisted copyright infringement," an author named Andy writes at TorrentFreak.

TorBoox's administrator tells TorrentFreak that an association of German publishers "had itself published the complete URL of the site."

"[T]he really crazy part about this is that German publishers are fighting tooth and nail to defend a market that is still tiny," Sal Robinson writes: "a recent study by the market research firm GfK found that e-books accounted for only 2.4% of German books sales in 2012."

Finally, Emre Peker at The Wall Street Journal has the very strange story of a Noam Chomsky interview in the Turkish newspaper Yeni Safak.

“This complexity in the Middle East, do you think the Western states flapping because of this chaos? Contrary to what happens when everything that milk port, enters the work order, then begins to bustle in the West. I’ve seen the plans works,” Mr. Chomsky allegedly said in an answer to one question.

The text, however, flows perfectly in Turkish. Plugging the Turkish content into Google Translate shows that Mr. Chomsky was left uttering phrases like “milk port”–a direct translation of an idiom derived from sailing that means “calm.”

Chomsky responded with a comment on the story, he tells Peker. Translation issues aside, the paper spun Chomsky's comments as supportive of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and some of the comments attributed to Chomsky appear not to have been his to begin with: "The newspaper initially said the answers came to additional questions from reporter Burcu Bulut, but eventually issued a correction on Monday, and apologized from Mr. Chomsky and its readers for 'errors that don’t comply with the principles of journalism,' " Peker writes.

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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