Today the Hamburg Regional Court opened the trials in Max Mosley’s lawsuit against Google Inc. over violation of his right of personality. The plaintiff wants Google to filter out compromising pictures from its search results.
Almost exactly four and a half years ago, the British tabloid News of the World published an article accusing Mosley to have taken part in a sadomasochistic sex-party with five prostitutes with whips dressed in Nazi uniforms. Journalists of the paper also uploaded a video of the party that was grabbed with a hidden camera. In the lawsuit against the paper the High Court held that the Nazi accusations were untrue and ordered the newspaper to pay damages for violation of Mosley’s privacy.
But this did not end the story for as photos of that video are still circulating on the Internet. He has since fought and won a lot of legal battles against website operators to take down the pictures. As those pictures keep popping up here and there on the web and filing a new lawsuit every time is a never ending task, Mosley now sues Google to prevent the users from even finding the content. The company defends itself claiming they would quickly remove sites from their search results as soon as a court ruling holds that it was illegal. But that they were not able to filter out the pictures nor were they in the position to decide in which context content was illegal and in which it wasn’t.
Mosley claims it would be technically possible for the search engine to filter out the results but they would not want. And that he would not fight this battle anymore for himself but for everyone suffering from the Internet’s and especially Google’s mechanisms and the impossibility to have content forgotten in the World Wide Web. He says he was in the lucky position to have the time and the money to fight this war.
The lawsuit is generally seen as a landmark battle. In today’s opening hearing the Hamburg Regional Court held it was competent to decide the issue. The first session ended with the court giving the attorneys until October 26 to provide more information.