July 17, 2010

Farmer must remove religious slogan from roof

Filed under: Religion by Branko Collin @ 11:49 am

The Council of State decided last Wednesday that farmer Joop van Ooijen must remove the text “Jezus redt” (Jesus saves) from his roof or else he’ll be fined 15,000 euro.

The welstandscommissie of the municipality of Giessenlanden—a typically Dutch abomination that gets to rule on the beauty of any outdoors construction—had outlawed the Christian slogan before. The Council of State (1531) is the highest court of appeal for administrative decisions, and is formally presided by the non-elected Queen.

Van Ooijen told De Volkskrant he will appeal the decision. According to the council, an appeal is not possible.

Update: As Arnoud Engelfriet points out in the comments, the appeal will likely be at a European level.

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(Public domain photo by Wikipedia user Apdency)

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May 30, 2009

Optimize websites, lose lawsuits

Filed under: Automobiles,Online by Branko Collin @ 12:18 am

Remember that story about the website that lost a lawsuit due to how Google summarized its contents in search results? Well, the judge’s opinion came in yesterday, and it gets even crazier.

What went on before? Miljoenhuizen.nl had a web page on which the words “Zwartepoorte” and “failliet” (bankrupt) appeared together, although totally unrelated. According to Zwartepoorte the Google summary of that page caused people to conclude that the company had gone bankrupt, and so it asked Miljoenhuizen.nl to change the webpage to undo that impression. The latter refused and the former sued.

Miljoenhuizen.nl’s owner had—let me quote the court—“organized his website in such a manner that it scored “high” in Google, [so] the defendant has a responsibility in this matter.” In other words because the defendant ranked high in the search engine, he lost the case. He probably never helped himself by telling the judge how easy and trivial it is to change the page in a way that Google would no longer produce the damaging text.

Some good news for Miljoenhuizen.nl though is that it managed to net Solv (Dutch), the respectable internet law firm of amongst others Christiaan Alberdingk Thijm—he who once convinced a court that Kazaa was legal, although by then the filesharing company had fled to Australia only to be convicted there, perhaps because lesser legal minds roam the steppe of Southland.

(Full verdict here (Dutch, PDF). Link: Iusmentis. Joris van Hoboken, expert on the confluence of law and search engines, has an opinion in English.)

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