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French court convicts Google's chief executive of defamation

The case was filed by a man unhappy with the results that came up when he Googled himself.

A Paris court has convicted Google and its chief executive Eric Schmidt of defamation over results generated by its Suggest feature, French legal affairs website Legalis.net reported last week.

The defamation case was filed by a man convicted of a three-year jail sentence - which was not yet definitive - for corruption of a minor. He claimed that when he typed in his name in the search engine, Google Suggest associated it with the terms "rapist" and "Satanist".

His attempts at urging Google to have the terms disassociated with his name did not yield any result, he claimed.

The French court said the search engine's linking the plaintiff's name to such words was defamatory and ordered Google to pay €5,000 towards his legal costs and a symbolic €1 in damages.

It was also asked to take measures to ensure the offence would not be repeated.

According to AFP, Google said it would appeal the ruling. The company asserted that the Suggest feature only reflected the most common terms associated in the past with the word entered and so it was not Google itself that was making the suggestions.