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).
A judge ruled that the ‘snippet’, which occured in the results of a search for ‘Zwartepoorte’ and ‘bankrupt’, may or may not give the false impression that the car dealer has gone bankrupt.
“To create the snippet, Google algorithms pulled both the ‘Zwartepoorte’ bit and the ‘bankrupt’ bit from the Miljoenhuizen.nl page. But they weren’t side-by-side on the page – as the ellipses indicate. That’s often how Google does things. If you Google two separate words, it shows you that each search result contains both of them,” explains the Register.
The site has reportedly removed the page.
Crucially, as the Register points out, the car dealer chose to sue the website not Google. (Interestingly now when you search for the same terms on Google blogs and news sites reporting the case appear in the results with the same snippet).
It’s a worrying precedent for online publishers – are there ways to prevent Google from summarising pages in this form?