Technology

Google Video executives' Italian conviction overturned

Google Video
Image caption The clip was uploaded to Google Video before the service was phased out in favour of YouTube

An Italian court has overturned the conviction of three Google executives found guilty of breaking Italian law by allowing a video of a bullied teenager to be posted online.

The clip was uploaded in 2006 and had featured a boy with autism.

The employees were given six-month suspended jail sentences in 2010.

Google had appealed against the ruling, saying it had removed the video within two hours of being notified by the authorities.

The three employees - global privacy counsel Peter Fleischer, chief legal officer David Drummond and former Google Italy board member George De Los Reyes - had been convicted of privacy violations, but absolved of defamation in the original case.

The offending video clip was a mobile phone upload showing four students at a school in Turin bullying the victim. Prosecutors had highlighted that it had been online for two months despite several users posting comments calling for its removal.

At the time Google had said it would be impossible to pre-screen every film posted to its sites to check their contents.

The firm described the appeal ruling as a "victory".

"We're very happy that the verdict has been reversed and our colleagues' names have been cleared," said a spokesman,

"Of course, while we're all delighted with the appeal, our thoughts continue to be with the family who have been through the ordeal."

Giovanni Maria Riccio, professor of IT Law at the University of Salerno, described the ruling as a "landmark decision" since it signalled that internet services were not obligated to monitor all their content.

"Another condemnation for Google would had jeopardised investments of big internet players in Italy and would had a negative impact also on small operators and ISPs [internet service providers], which are not in the condition of monitoring contents on their service," he told the BBC.

"It is a happy news not only for Italy, but for the whole internet."

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