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Google wins landmark advertising case in Australia

Google has won a landmark advertising case after Australia’s High Court ruled that the search giant is not responsible for the content of paid advertisements it displays and that it did not mislead users with its sponsored links.

The ruling overturned an April 2012 decision by Australia’s Federal Court, ending a six-year legal battle between Google and Australian consumer protection agency, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

The historic decision is sure to be used as a precedent to help Internet service providers and search engines claim that they facilitate the transmission of third-party data without being publishers.

"Others will definitely be looking at this ruling. Google is a worldwide business. This is something of a first, and it does add some clarity for the industry," Peter Lee, the head of Australia's Internet Industry Association, told Reuters.

"Ordinary and reasonable users of the Google search engine would have understood that the representations conveyed by the sponsored links were those of the advertisers, and would not have concluded that Google adopted or endorsed the representations," said the court in a unanimous decision in which the five High Court justices absolved Google of responsibility for the messages displayed in sponsored links it did not create.

Following last year’s ruling from the Federal Court, Google has changed its advertising practices in Australia, clearly identifying advertisements as such in its search results.

Image Credit: Flickr (kalexanderson)