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|"Suit over poor Google ranking may go forward"|
Company sues google over drop in search rankings
"A federal judge in California hinted that a parenting Web site that's suing Google over a poor ranking in the search giant's massive index would be able to proceed with its lawsuit."
This could open a can of worms :)
No idea why this has degenerated into a legal argument.
Don't you just love it how EFV gets all fired up whenever the words "Google" , "irresponsible", and "Legislation" are being mentioned in a given post? LOL
|How about the Guild of Unsuccessful SEOs, or the Poorly-Ranked Web Sites Association? |
Whatever Guild you join, forget about joining the “successful lonely planet clones” Association. They ain't taking any new members ;)
[edited by: Web_speed at 1:52 pm (utc) on July 11, 2006]
A topic like this does at least one thing - The Google
haters and the Google lovers appear to be clearly defined - For whatever good that does. LOL.
Looks like it's all over for now:
|A California judge on Thursday dismissed a Web site's lawsuit against Google over its fall in the Google search index, but left the door open for the lawsuit to be amended and refiled. |
|"The decision suggests that, if properly alleged, Google may be defaming a whole class of Web sites sacked with a '0' PageRank," he wrote in a statement. "If plaintiffs show Google manually tampered with even a single Web site's PageRank, Google's entire claim of 'objectivity' of search results and rankings could collapse.. |
Ahh now we get to the rulings and the HUGE door left open by the judge.
What "huge door?" That statement was made by the attorney who lost.
As for the remark about "Google haters" and "Google lovers," I've always believed that it's a mistake to let emotions get in the way of common sense. This case isn't about whether one hates or loves Google (or KinderStart, for that matter); it's about First Amendment rights.
|What "huge door?" That statement was made by the attorney who lost. |
The opposing atty. simply paraphrased what the judge said below...
|Fogel wrote that a PageRank score reflects Google's opinions, and suggested that a score generated by a computer algorithm is likely not defamatory. But if KinderStart can prove a case of "manual intervention" by Google, Fogel wrote, the outcome might be different |
Either way, as I mentioned earlier in the thread, what the judge says, (or doesn't say) in the whys and hows of the case being dismissed is the "meat".
This judge basically handed them what he would determine to be a complaint "worth pursuing and possibly winning"
|Google haters and Google lovers |
This is off-topic but any webmaster/businessperson who doesn't see the value of Google not having more than 40% of the market share is either short-sighted or foolish.
When and if, Yahoo or MSN gets more than 40% of the market then I will become a "yahoo hater" or "msn hater".
In a "perfect" world, the market share would be broken up into 40%-40%-20% or 33%-33%-33% with no particular search having more than 40%.
Hopefully you understand the value of this?
As I have no particular issues with G persay.
[edited by: whitenight at 6:22 am (utc) on July 14, 2006]
I'm not aware that Google ever claimed that their rankings and ratings are 100% "objective", or that they have never made a manual adjustment to a website. It sounds like some lawyer is trying to twist their words in order to get some kind of foot in the door. We all know that Google penalize websites for various reasons, and not just algorithmically. That's the whole point of submitting spam complaints, and the whole point of submitting reinclusion requests.
|It sounds like some lawyer is trying to twist their words in order to get some kind of foot in the door. We all know that Google penalize websites for various reasons, and not just algorithmically |
Reread it. I mistakenly posted the lawyers comments instead of the judges.
The judge has clearly said that one could sue for "defamation" and may have a case.
Guess we'll have to wait until that case comes up to see if it holds any credence.
|But if KinderStart can prove a case of "manual intervention" by Google, Fogel wrote, the outcome might be different |
This judge is a MORON as anyone can be dumped by Google, anyone can dump a customer, there is NO LAW that forces you to do business with someone you don't like. Even if it was a hand edit, if they were doing things that violated GOOGLES T&C's or webmaster guidelines where's the defamation in that?
Now if KinderStart was on Matt Cutt's blog as an example of a site that was dropped for doing bad things, then they would probably have went to trial already, but that's not the case.
Stupid stupid judge, but we have plenty of them, why should this one be any different?
Now the question is:
Who's signing up for the class-action suit?
Sounds like "free money" to me.(if they win)
Knew this lawyer was savvy....
He's about to make himself a nice chunk of change and become the "go to guy" for future internet lawsuits.
|Knew this lawyer was savvy.... |
He's about to make himself a nice chunk of change and become the "go to guy" for future internet lawsuits.
Yeah, savvy enough to have all his claims dismissed because they were either insufficient or failed to allege facts to support the claim.
That is the sign of either an incompetent lawyer or one that is out to make some headlines even if he doesn't have a real case.
Usually you are able to have some of the claims survive, but this guy wasn't able to have any of them survive. Not even the claims that the judge thought might have some merit if they were properly plead.
If I had a valid claim against google, there is no way I would join the class if this guy was running it. He has a sympathetic judge and it still gets dismissed.
You're still missing the point...
(on purpose or not, I'm not sure)
The Kinderstart case is and has always been irrelevant!
What the judge said about the case is what mattered.
Obviously the lawyer understood that as well, as he now is filing a class action suit for defamation. (He most likely had "some" class action suit planned all along depending on what the judge said)
My guess it that there is:
20% of him winning depending on his arguments and quantity or quality of additional plaintiffs
40-50% of Google settling this (see below)
30-40% of Google battling to the end and winning (see below)
First of all, there's a 99% chance that said lawyer makes a huge amount of cash no matter what the outcome.
Why do I think there is a 50% of G settling?
Again, whether true or not, the public believes that G is completely objective in their rankings and I dare say much of their popularity is due to this.
A class action lawsuit like this will probably get much publicity and bring into question, to the general public, all those little "conspiracy theories" you only saw mentioned by webmasters, ie:
Is G allowing certain sites to rank to increase adsense/adwords revenue?
Is G not allowing certain sites to rank to increase revenue?
If G is hand-editing sites, what's the basis of this editing?
How objective is the hand-editing?
This may all fall under the First Amendment but it reflects poorly on Google's stock...
It will be up to G to determine how far they want to let this discussion go on and effect their stock prices.
Either way, IMO there's a good chance that G settles which means "incompetent lawyer" get his hefty fees and other plaintiffs get little or squat.
Obviously if they win, he gets his fees.
Even he loses, filing a class-action is big business and puts this guy into the "big leagues" which = future big money clients. (regardless of your opinion of his lawyering skills and competency)
|This case isn't about whether one hates or loves Google (or KinderStart, for that matter); it's about First Amendment rights. |
It certainly isn't about the First Amendment either. Only governments can censor -- businesses can choose to do as they see fit.
And without an employee coming forward, (and violating confidentuality agreements), I don't see how anyone is ever going to make the claim in court that Google hand-manipulated the SERPs -- and even if they do, I think most would say it is their right. Coke can certainly manipulate their drink forumlas if they choose. Doing so would hurt business, (as evidenced by "New Coke"), but it is their right.
There may be a case for unethical business practices, but I think Google is still the Belle of the Ball. It will take some mighty "evil" doings from the company who's motto is "Do no Evil" before any judge goes down that path.
|A class action lawsuit like this will probably get much publicity... |
Unlikely. Even the AOL volunteers v. AOL suit didn't get all that much attention, and it was a much bigger deal this from the general public's point of view.
Plus, even if this suit did get broader news coverage, it would make Google look like a hero.
Oh, and I'd love to see Google trot out the plaintiff's offenses in court. (Maybe Matt Cutts could go on the witness stand--his detailed exposes of "innocent" spammers on his blog are hilarious.)
|Knew this lawyer was savvy.... |
This lawyers an absolute nit wit and I would bet you a case of cold ones he doesn’t know the difference between Adwords and Adsense! If he is charging his client one red cent he’s stealing from them because this case is an absolute waste of time. If your going to pick a fight then make sure you have your facts straight.
Again, run a site command on this site and you will see it’s an absolute piece of junk; its ranks poorly because it should. These people are not being picked on by anyone; they just built a bad site that sank like a stone. Maybe Google helped it down the toilet with a penalty but if you spend some time on it you will find plenty of infractions.
It’s all a bunch of Public relations baloney because these people can’t seriously think their going to legally slug there way to the top of the SERPS with that thing.
Oh, p.s. anyone know when the next meeting of the “Guild of Unsuccessful SEOs” is? Just thought I might swing by, you know, just to check it out. (exactly how unsuccessful do you have to be in order to join?)
Point is, if you take away peoples income, they will start to protest. If Google becomes as unstable as it is now, this will increase the pool of above people. More instability, more law suits.
|Point is, if you take away peoples income, they will start to protest. |
So what's the alternative--to let spammers run the show?
Google, like other search engines, needs to protect the integrity of its product, or users will go elsewhere. If that means KinderStart, SearchKing, or some other site of dubious value is no longer able to profit by influencing Google's search rannkings, so be it.
|This judge is a MORON as anyone can be dumped by Google, anyone can dump a customer, there is NO LAW that forces you to do business with someone you don't like. Even if it was a hand edit, if they were doing things that violated GOOGLES T&C's or webmaster guidelines where's the defamation in that? |
The judge's opinion was couched in a lot of hypothetical, but boiled down to his apparent displeasure with Google's public descriptions of PageRank as objective and determined by algorithm, as contrasted with its in-court argument that PageRank is its subjective opinion.
|Even he loses, filing a class-action is big business and puts this guy into the "big leagues" which = future big money clients. |
Is that how you get clients - by getting slapped down on every count you allege in high-profile cases? Can you name a single lawyer who has followed the model you describe to success? (Or is it like the precedents you set... you just can't find the time to name one.) Your analysis of this lawsuit reminds me of what I might hear from a summer clerk.
Again, where did Google ever state its rankings were objective? I think this is a straw man. Such a claim would be fallacious, because the algorithms themselves are subjective. It really makes no difference whether there are manual adjustments or not.
For example, when Google add a spam filter for doorway pages or link bombing or whatever, they're making a subjective judgment that filtering out sites that meet certain arbitrary criteria improves the quality of search results overall. At any given time their SERPs are a best effort and nothing more.
|Such a claim would be fallacious, because the algorithms themselves are subjective. It really makes no difference whether there are manual adjustments or not. |
Sure, and that's why a federal judge used the word "opinions" when ruling that Google's "PageRanks" are protected by the First Amendment.
Plus, as was mentioned earlier in this thread, Google's Webmaster guidelines make it very clear that violators of those guidelines are subject to penalties and other negative results.
And then there's this news:
"Ranking Suit Against Google Dismissed"
|What the judge said about the case is what mattered. |
Yeah, and he said dismissed.
The part he said that there were some valid questions raised is in no way binding. It just meant that he was telling Yu that here is the one and only case where you presented relevent facts. But even with those relevent facts the pleading was incompetent.
|40-50% of Google settling this (see below) |
You forgot one major point, Google's record for settling lawsuits. Caldera made similar mistaken assumptions when they sued IBM.
As far as I know, Google has not settled any cases related to the search or advertising sides of the business. They have always fought it with everything they have.
I would guess that they would not settle a search related case without it looking like it was incredibly likely that they would lose, and that would be later in the case.
For them to be incredibly likely to lose, would require very good lawyering on Yu's part and very bad lawyering on Google's part. Google has very good lawyers. Yu successfully got his entire case dismissed and required guidance from the judge as to what to do next.
Google is certainlynot going to settle before their motion to dismiss the amended complaint. Nor will they settle before discovery and summary judgement, which they can make very uncomfortable.
And there is the little matter of the anti-SLAPP hanging over Yu and KinderStart's heads. On the outside chance that it became a class and doesn't get dismissed again, I certainly would not want to join the case until the aint-SLAPP got settled. I have no idea whether members of a class would be responsible for the fees under anti-SLAPP, but it is a distinct possibility if they have already joined.
As for class status, this is nothing new. Yu was trying for that all along. Read the decision. You see all those Does listed as plantiffs? That is the class.
The thing is that it is not the lawyer that gets to make it a class action, they only get to request it. It requires the judge to make it a class action case.
Do you really think that the judge will grant that to a one lawyer firm where the lawyer could not get anything in the original complaint passed the dismissal stage?
See, you are missing some things in your percentages.
80% chance that the amended complaint gets dismissed.
50% chance that google wins the anti-SLAPP sends kinderstart into BK.
95% chance that google files some even more serious counter-claims.
80% chance that Yu is not able to compete with Google when it comes to discovery motions. And discovery goes both ways.
80% chance that if it becomes a class that other members of the class will bring up evidence that google willuse to kill the case. Classes also provide some advantages to the defendants. They basically have to show that the entire class deserves to win.
90% chance that if the case gets that far that google will win or strip it down to the bare bones at summary judgement stage.
So after all those things, then you can start talking chances for settlement.
You have to remember that this is a lawyer that got his entire first complaint dismissed. The whole thing! Nothing survived!
And you are saying that at this point there is a 50% chance that google will settle?!?!?
There isn't even a 50% chance that he will be able to file an amended complaint that survives.
|Again, where did Google ever state its rankings were objective? |
Well, on their website [google.com] they state,
|PageRank Technology: PageRank performs an objective measurement of the importance of web pages by solving an equation of more than 500 million variables and 2 billion terms. Instead of counting direct links, PageRank interprets a link from Page A to Page B as a vote for Page B by Page A. PageRank then assesses a page's importance by the number of votes it receives. |
PageRank also considers the importance of each page that casts a vote, as votes from some pages are considered to have greater value, thus giving the linked page greater value. Important pages receive a higher PageRank and appear at the top of the search results. Google's technology uses the collective intelligence of the web to determine a page's importance. There is no human involvement or manipulation of results, which is why users have come to trust Google as a source of objective information untainted by paid placement.
Interesting. That passage only refers to PageRank itself and not to the SERPs, but even so a more correct description would be that it's one possible interpretation of a pages importance. Their PR calculation algorithms must involve hundreds, if not thousands, of proprietary decisions or judgments, many added as a direct response to various PR manipulation techniques.
And my experience with one penalized domain suggests that even PR is subject to some kind of manual adjustment, in which case that assertion ought to be removed or rewritten.
Yeah, that should be rewritten, but I doubt that it would be enough to cause a decision against them.
To start with, only that first "objective" in that quote applies to pagerank. The second one refers to Google itself, and the fact that their results are "untainted by paid placement".
It will also be difficult to pin google down with that one statement, when there are many qualifying statements elsewhere on their website.
You also have to consider what was NOT said in that statement. they do not say that what the assumptions, inputs and calculations are. They could certainly argue that the pagerank calculation is objective given the subjective inputs and assumptions.
One such possible input or assumption is that a website will only accumulate pagerank as long as it has not failed a quality guidelines hand check.
Given that some very good lawyers would be making some version of that argument, wouldn't it be safe to assume that it would take a good lawyer to knock that argument down?
I suppose that it is possible that Gregory Yu is a better lawyer than I give him credit for, but he has yet to prove it in this case.
|Yeah, and he said dismissed. |
BigDAve, you've just earned this thread's Touche' Award. :-)
At the end of the day, they would also have to demonstrate that Google users pick which sites to visit or remain at based upon PageRank, and that users stopped using the site due to its loss of PageRank as displayed by Google (as opposed to worsened performance in search results). I doubt that many people directly rely on PageRank when using Google. Even if the amended complaint survives another 12(b) motion, I doubt that the defamation claim is either viable or valuable. (And that's before taking into consideration that, based upon their performance in the transcript I read, Google's lawyers are excellent.)
The judge focused on the language, "There is no human involvement or manipulation of results", whereas it appears that in the case of this site there was a manually imposed penalty which zeroed out the site's PageRank. The judge wrote:
|Google's statement as to whether a particular website is "worth your time" necessarily reflects its subjective judgment as to what factors make a website important. Viewed in this way, a PageRank reflects Google's opinion. However, it is possible a PageRank reasonably could be interpreted as a factual statement insofar as it purports to tell a user "how Google’s algorithms assess the importance of the page you’re viewing." This interpretation would be bolstered by evidence supporting Google’s alleged representations that PageRank is "objective," and that a reasonable person thus might understand Google's display of a '0' PageRank for Kinderstart.com to be a statement that '0' is the (unmodified) output of Google’s algorithm. If it could be shown, as Kinderstart alleges, that Google is changing that output by manual intervention, then such a statement might be provably false. |
ugh.. too many posts for me to answer in detail.
First, I'm not a lawyer, nor do I claim to be one
(unlike a few posters here who I wonder about).
All my cases have been won and/or settled, pro se.
I like to maintain my anonymity and have outgrown "proving" that I've done what I've said I've done. If want "proof" then do a logical search and you might stumble upon my forum and cases. Otherwise you can take my opinions just like anyone else's...with a grain of salt.
On that note, anyone posting here who is an attorney might want to be careful in how they phrase their sarcasm and opinions.
Some here might mistakenly take that as legal advice. (tsk tsk. You should know better)
As far as how lawyers "try their cases", yes, in many cases they throw everything against the wall and see what sticks.
Again, Kinderstart's case was weak to begin with. I'm not sure why anyone thinks I'm defending the merits of that case.
One can not confuse the client's case with the lawyer's arguments.
Nor can one assume the judge's rulings for Kinderstart's specific case applies to every future plaintiff.
Which is why I keep stressing the judge's comments.
One can argue Kinderstart has no case for future complaints. Fine! I agree and Who cares?!
The judge's comments about G potentially misleading PR statement re: it's objectivity/subjectivity for defamation and/or false advertising is important.
Not for Kinderstart particularly, but for other future plaintiffs and/or lawyers with stronger cases.
Their PR statement is a legal headache waiting to become a legal liability.
As far as anti-SLAAP counter claims, bah!
Google stopped being a "university project" a long time ago. They make billions in revenue and try to use anti-SLAAP as their legal weapon for counter-claims?
That's another case I'd like to see played out.
How is G going to claim that their search results aren't "commercial speech" when it "just so happens" to make them more money than 3rd world countries?
As far as G settling class-actions?
Umm, didn't they just settle out in the click-fraud case?
Why did they settle?
Who knows, but most likely cause it reflected poorly on their company to let it get too far.
And not because they didn't believe they could "win" or "were right".
If it makes you feel better, I never believed that you were a lawyer. I'm not going to try to dig up information to support your claims; you made claims, you can't support them, so in my book you lose by default.
That weird caution to lawyers. Is that supposed to mean something, or are you just trying to sound clever?
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