Charlie Chaplin in The Great Dictator (1940)

Charlie Chaplin in The Great Dictator (1940)

A French court has ordered Google to remove nine photographs of ex-Formula One boss Max Mosley participating in a Nazi-themed sex orgy from its index, ruling that the images breach his privacy.

The now-defunct Murdoch-owned News of the World ran a story in 2008 about Mosley’s alleged participation in a Nazi-themed sex party with prostitutes along with photographs and a video. Mosley admitted taking part in such activity, but has won court cases in both England and France over the tabloid violation of his right to privacy.

Whilst the images are not available on the news of the World, you can still find them on the internet with bloggers and members of the public having posted copies of the originals.

The French court has ordered Google to purge the nine results currently found with a quick search on Google Images as well as pay Mosley &euro1 (£0.86) in damages and €5,000 (£4,283) in court costs. If the search giant fails to comply they will be liable for €1000 (£857) for each time one of the images appears.

The ruling comes as a blow to Google, which continues to maintain the stance that they offer a platform for finding information on the web and should not be liable if that content infringes someone’s rights. They already receive thousands of take-down requests per day from copyright holders trying to fight movie and music piracy, and this ruling could pave the way for future image take-downs.

Whilst Mosley may have been successful in getting the court to order the photos removal, the publicity that this decision will bring may make more people aware of those photographs than would have ever previously known about them – something called the “Streisand effect”. Moreover, although Google will remove the currently accessible nine photos from its index, if someone posts other similar photos in the future then its bots will automatically index them again.

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