Doctor 'Defamed' on Ripoff Report, Sues Google

ripoff-report-removalAn Australian doctor has brought a defamation suit against Google over Ripoff Report listings claiming she stalked psychics, the Australian reported.

Dr Janice Duffy, a former senior South Australian Health Department researcher, told the newspaper she had contacted Google to remove the listings - there are five listings at Ripoff Report - but that the company refused.

Duffy stated she feared it could impact her ability to find a new job and had asked RoR to remove the comments. "Dr Duffy said she had suffered depression and had been unable to work since last year, when she left her job as a senior research scientist," the newspaper stated.

"I started this action because I thought Google would remove it if I started proceedings. If I could have had it removed I would have moved on with my life."

Ripoff Report has been a reputation management problem for many innocently defamed people and companies. The site protects its actions under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), that limits website owners' liability for what others post to sites.

The site uses the act to support not taking the listings down - as actively editing content could void the protection. Google, for their part, sees the alleged consumer protection site as a "trusted site" despite numerous complaints and lawsuits over the years and Ripoff Report's practice of requiring money to add a statement to the top of the comments stating they are not verifiable.

Though the U.S. courts have found Ripoff Report not to be extortion - particularly California, it will be interesting to see what happens under the Australian courts.

Google has censored its results in other countries - China, the Middle East and parts of Europe. If the suit goes against Google they would likely just remove listings in Australia, given they have the ability.

Good luck, Dr. Duffy. There are many hoping you win and prompt Google to change their view of the site.

About the author

Frank Watson has been involved with the Web since it started. For the past five years, he headed SEM for FXCM -- at one time one of the top 25 spenders with AdWords. He has worked with most of the major analytics companies and pioneered the ability to tie online marketing with offline conversion.

He has now started his own marketing agency, Kangamurra Media. This new venture will keep him busy when he is not editing the Search Engine Watch forums, blogging at a number of authoritative sites, and developing some interesting online community sites.

He was one of the first 100 AdWords Professionals, a Yahoo and Overture Ambassador, and a member or mod of many of the industry forums. He is also on the Click Quality Council and has worked hard to diminish click fraud.