Google è editore per le pubblicazioni sui blog della piattaforma Blogger?

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Per la Corte d’Appello di Londra Google non ha più un ruolo a purely passive one per quel che riguarda Blogger.

È datata infatti 14 febbraio una Sentenza della Corte d’Appello della capitale inglese – Case No: A2/2012/0691 – destinata ad essere citata in parecchi casi ancora in attesa di giudizio tra utenti e Big G.  Il motore di ricerca Californiano fornisce, tra i tanti servizi, il popolare servizio di blogging Blogger.com, un servizio che ha base negli USA ma fruibile in rete in tutto il mondo. Blogger.com è una piattaforma attraverso la quale qualunque utente, da qualunque parte del mondo, può accedere e creare un proprio Blog.

Il caso che ha portato alla decisione della Corte d’Appello di Londra ha a che vedere con quanto contenuto sulle pagine online del London Muslim, blog ospitato sulla piattaforma Blogger.

Il caso scoppiò qualche anno fa, quando Payam Tamiz, uno studente di legge ed ex candidato per le elezioni comunali del partito conservatore, si rivolse ai Giudici Inglesi per rimuovere contenuti diffamatori a suo carico presenti sul London Muslim. Infatti pare che su tale pagina, nei giorni compresi tra il 28 e il 30 aprile 2011, Payam venisse etichettato come spacciatore e ladro.

I giudici in primo grado si pronunciarono a favore di Google, sentenziando che non era direttamente responsabile per quanto pubblicato dagli utenti nelle piattaforme che metteva gratuitamente a disposizione.

Ma la Corte d’Appello di Londra ha ribaltato la sentenza, e, pur rigettando le richieste del querelante  in quanto il danno in questione è stato ritenuti insignificante, visto che i commenti oggetto del contendere rimasero online per così poco tempo da non poter essere visualizzati da un numero ragionevole di utenti, hanno comunque stabilito che il fornitore di una piattaforma di blog online, in seguito alla richiesta di cancellazione di commenti diffamatori, ha un tempo massimo di cinque settimane per rimuovere tali contenuti. Passate queste cinque settimane lo stesso fornitore del servizio diventa responsabile di continuazione della pubblicazione, diventando di fatto Editore, e quindi di conseguenza, responsabile – e perseguibile – per il contenuto diffamatorio.

Dice la sentenza al suo punto [16] “The judge noted inter alia that it was virtually impossible for Google Inc to exercise editorial control over the content of the blogs it hosts, which in the aggregate contain more yhan half a trillion words, with 250,000 new words added every minute. Has referred to the submission that it would be unrealistic to attribute responsability for publication of material on any particular blog to Google Inc, whether before or after notification of a complaint. He also referred to the importance of striving to achieve consistency in decisions in the face of rapidly developing technology, and to paying proper regard to the values enshrined in the ECHR. He said that the fact that an entity in Google Inc’s position had been notified of a complaint did not immediately convert its status or role into that of a publisher. If Google Inc’s status before notification of a complaint was that of a provider or a facilitator, it was not easy to see why that role should be expanded thereafter into that of a person who authorised or acquiesced in publication. Google Inc claimed to remain as neutral in the process after notification as it was before. It might be true that it had the technical capability of taking down blogs or comments on its platform, yet that was not by any means the same as sayng that it had become an author or authoriser of the publication”, definendo in prima facie le il provider di queste piattaforme come “a purely passive one”. Per poi, riprendendo i celebri precedenti Davison v Habeeb and Others e Byrne v Deane, affermare al punto [31] della sentenza che “Even if [Google Inc.] should properly be seen as a facilitator, the mere provider of a gigantic noticeboard on which others published defamatory material, in my judgment it must also at least be arguable that at some point after notification [Google Inc.] became liable for continued publication of the material complained of on Byrne vs Deane principle of consent or acquiescence”.

Inoltre, i Giudici della Corte d’Appello Inglese sostengono che il giudice Eady, che si era pronunciato in primo grado sulla questione, “he held that Google Inc. was not a “publisher” for these purposes even if contrary to his primacy conclusion, it was to be treated at common law as having been a publisher of the defamatory comments. It did not come within the definition of “commercial publisher” within subsection (2) since in operating the Blogger service it did not itself issue material to the public or a section of the public and, specifically, it did not issue material containing the statements complained of. Eady J also drew support from subsection (3)(e), taking the view that Google Inc. could accurately be characterised as providing access to a communications system by means of which the statements were transmitted or made available by a person over whom it had no effective control: by “effective control” it was likely that the draftsman had in mind effective day-to-day control rather than the possibility of intervention in reliance on a contractual term about the permitted content of a web page” ma, dicono i Giudici della Corte d’Appello, “the relevant question to subsection (1) (b) is whether Google Inc. took reasonable care in relation to the continued publication of the comments”, ribadendo che “the company had no responsability for the content of the comments or the decision to publish them; the circumstances of publication include the vast number of blogs that are hosted on Blogger, wich may be said to justify a longer response time; and there is no evidence of anything in the previous conduct of the particular blogger or of those who posted the comments that might have called for speedier action to be taken”

Per poi concludere,  al punto [44], affermando che che “The relevant question is whether it can be said that in the period after notification of the complaint Google Inc. did not know, and had no reason to believe, that what it did caused or contributed to the publication of a defamatori statement. The judge’s reasoning on this was very brief. He said at [49] that once the complaint in respect of a relevant comment was notified, Gogole Inc. would have had reason to believe that the comment was defamatory, but that this was “far from saying.. that Google Inc. would have known, or had reason to believe, that it had done anything to cause or contribute to the publication of any of these statements”. But the very considerations that lead me to conclude that Google Inc. arguably became a publisher of the defamatory comments on Byrne v Deane principles also tend towards the conclusion that following notification it knew or had reason to believe that what it did caused or contribuited to the continued publication of the comments. The judge in Davinson v Habeeb and Others, at [46], thought it arguable in that case that at some point after notification Google Inc. knew, or had reason to believe, that its continued hosting of a material in question caused or contributed to the publication of a defamatory statement. In my view the same can be said in the present case.”

Stando così le cose, Google diventerebbe di fatto responsabile, oltre che come Hosting Provider per i contenuti caricati sulle sue piattaforme, anche come Editore.

Attendiamo di vedere quale sarà l’impatto di questa interessantissima sentenza nel resto degli Stati dove Big G ha in corso controversie simili.

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