Technical, Automatic and Passive: Liability of Search Engines for Hosting Infringing Content in the Light of the Google ruling

Paul Przemysław Polanski


The present contribution discusses the latest ruling of the European Court of Justice in the case of Google, which may have deeper consequences for advertisers relying on AdWords service, as well as for providers of similar services around the globe. The Court ruling may turn out to be even more important for Web 2.0 service providers as it seems to have opened the possibility of applying for a legal protection under Article 14 of the Ecommerce Directive. European judges made it clear that sponsored links services are information society services and that they may fall under the sphere of application of hosting safe haven provided that their activities are of technical, automatic and passive nature understood as a lack of knowledge or control over the data stored. This statement is yet to be applied by French courts that will have to establish whether Google AdWords service is really neutral and hence deserves a special legal treatment.

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