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Lawsuit Against Google Dismissed 89

Posted by kdawson
from the and-a-pony dept.
Weather Storm writes in with news from PCWorld that a US District Court judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed against Google by a company that accused them of manipulating search results for political and religious reasons and skewing results in favor of companies that compensate Google financially. The lawsuit (discussed on Slashdot last year) was filed by KinderStart, a parenting information Web site that claims it was illegally blocked from Google search results. The judge not only dismissed the lawsuit but granted a motion by Google to sanction KinderStart and one of its lawyers. Google can now seek "reasonable compensation" for attorney fees because KinderStart's lawyer filed claims that were factually baseless and did not perform an adequate investigation before filing the lawsuit.
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Lawsuit Against Google Dismissed

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  • A Good Start (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @03:28AM (#18476749)
    I'd like to see the same thing happen to the RIAA next.
  • Re:Not far enough (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kadin2048 (468275) <[slashdot.kadin] [at] [xoxy.net]> on Sunday March 25, 2007 @03:42AM (#18476797) Homepage Journal
    Actually the judge's ruling went about as far as the judge was in a position to go.

    Kinderstart didn't have any claims that had merit, so there wasn't really a possibility of creating any new precedent or caselaw. They judge just tossed the whole thing out, and then as a bonus, said they were so ridiculously bad, that Kinderstart should have known not to bring such a steaming pile into the courtroom, in the first place.

    In order to 'go any further,' Kinderstart would have needed to have a claim with a modicum of merit, which they didn't.

    I guess maybe you can hope that someone smarter will sue Google for the same thing tomorrow, but I think they're probably just happy for the moment.
  • Re:Go to your room! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 25, 2007 @03:52AM (#18476825)
    I like how their search engine uses google adsense...

  • I never understood (Score:4, Interesting)

    by pembo13 (770295) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @04:05AM (#18476867) Homepage
    Why people feel that Google is obligated to do anything with their search results. They have the right to censor their search results however they like - their search results do not affect the existence of actual websites.
  • by FeldBum (933176) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @04:27AM (#18476919) Homepage
    No, but Google can sue them. They even have evidence:

    http://www.kinderstart.com/cgi-bin/sqlsearch.cgi?p os=1&query=google&language=&advanced=&urlonly=&wit hid= [kinderstart.com]

    They have been removed from KinderStart's search engine, in violation of their first amendment right to free speech!
  • by cbhacking (979169) <been_out_cruising-slashdot@@@yahoo...com> on Sunday March 25, 2007 @07:40AM (#18477543) Homepage Journal
    While Google certainly has the right to control their own results, they have a moral obligation not to abuse this power. Too many people - both web searchers and site owners - depend on it.

    Not to say that I agree with Kinderstart.com's reasoning, but they do have one: Google has become, in effect, the world's online navigation system. Being de-listed from Google (or even demoted; who wades through more than the first few pages of results unless they are looking for something specific?) is the WWW equivalent of being removed (or obscured) from the phone books, maps, "services next right" highway signs, travel guides, and so on. Google search provides most of those options, and, much like the physical world's AAA maps or Lonely Planet guides or so forth, Google is often seen as The Authority on the subject to the point that many alternative sources for such info are virtually unknown or at least unused.

    Also as with the real world, location and visibility matter. Facebook.com or MySpace.com might not do as well if Google de-listed them entirely, but could survive because people know the URLs and can exchange them easily. YouTube.com is linked from so many places that Google web searches probably add fairly little to its total hits (and anyhow, people could go to the site and then search internally if they were looking for something). However, unlike in the real world, you could have a 64-character GUID for a URL and effectively no permanent links from other sites (analogous to living in the middle of nowhere down a road with a thousand dead ends and no street signs) and if Google crawls your site people will still come.

    Indeed the vast majority of the web functions like this. Aside from a few sites that I visit regularly or have found some reason to write down, I do not remember any URLs off the top of my head. Heck, I couldn't reach half my bookmarked sites without a search engine or a good long time (if then). I could probably reach them if I was allowed to use, for example, Live search (but not Google) but it would take longer since I'm less familiar with the search conventions Live (or Yahoo, or any of the few other engines I know of) use. At that, I've been searching the web since before AltaVista was the engine of choice, since well before Google existed probably. Considering studies that show things like "70% of high school students in the USA cannot refine an overly broad Internet search" do you really think people have a chance of finding a site like KinderStart if it isn't in the first handful of responses ('handful' being a flexible term controlled by the number of nearly identical companies/sites... maybe "first 0.1%" would be better) for searches like "parenting info search engine" (sans quotes)? I don't. (Side note: I constructed that search query as the kind of thing a person familiar with web search but not very good at it might have used. Even so, neither Google not Live turned it up in the first 50 responses, and indeed by page four Google's responses were so wildly off base many people would ahve given up entirely. Live.com did better, but if the user had heard about kinderstart.com, and remembered the description but not the URL, they probably wouldn't have found it. They would have gone elsewhere, taking their valuable site ulitization and advertisement watching with them.)

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