Site convicted for Google’s automatic abstracts

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If the case of car dealer Zwartepoort against website Miljoenhuizen.nl has been in the news before, it can only have been as the sort of easily mocked example of how some folks start lawsuits over really anything and everything, no matter how trivial and unwinnable their cases are. But now Zwartepoorte have gone and won theirs. When you searched Google for the company name, you would get amongst others a result from Miljoenhuizen.nl seemingly explaining the car dealer had gone bankrupt. You know the type:

Full name: Zwartepoorte. Specialty: BMW … This company has gone bankrupt.

These abstracts are machine generated. Google takes disparate phrases from a website and combines them into an abstract. Miljoenhuizen.nl obviously feels that the wrong people have been sued. Miljoenhuizen.nl told De Telegraaf (Dutch): “If the search result were to imply or insinuate that Zwartepoorte has gone bust, it would be Google’s responsibility, not ours.” I would take that a step further and say that nobody should have been sued in the first place.

It will be interesting to see what reasoning judge Sj. A. Rullman will come up with to explain her judgment. Meanwhile, I am waiting with trepidation to be sued by BMW car dealers, as I have my own story of the power of Google to tell. The last few weeks of December I got a constant stream of phone calls from people wishing to buy a nice shiny Beamer. My initials are B.M.W., and as it turns out I used to be the first link people would find when they googled for “BMW Amsterdam,” displayed prominently as part of Google Business with a map and a phone number. It got so bad that I stopped answering the phone, and started the message on my machine with the statement that “I am not a BMW dealer.” I must has cost some poor sod a lot of lost business that way.

Update: fixed type “Miljoenenhuizen.nl” to “Miljoenhuizen.nl.” Thanks, Nico.

Link: Iusmentis (Dutch). Photo by Gyver Chang, some rights reserved.

3 Comments »

  1. […] make the same mistake again – failure to comply would mean a €500-a-day fine. via Register via 34 Oranges If you think more people should see this, pls share it […]

    Pingback by This is a first…Dutch News site sued for the way Google summarised one of its pages - The Next Web — June 2, 2009 @ 12:11 pm

  2. […] Milijoenhuizen.nl, a Dutch network of user-edited news portals, has reportedly been successfully sued by car dealing firm Zwartepoorte for a Google-generated page summary (via 24Oranges blog). […]

    Pingback by The Register: Dutch news portal sued over Google page summary | Journalism.co.uk Editors' Blog — June 2, 2009 @ 5:13 pm

  3. […] that story about the website that lost a lawsuit due to how Google summarized its contents in search results? […]

    Pingback by 24 oranges » Optimize websites, lose lawsuits — January 24, 2011 @ 9:50 pm

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