The battle begins

Well, after ignoring the process up until now – last Friday I got notice that Google were fighting my charge against them, claiming that the Victorian Civil and Administration Tribunal didn’t have jurisdiction over the matter. I expected this, and I found it easy to reject their claims purely on the “Gutnick v Dow Jones” precedent. I walked into the Tribunal on yesterday confident – although naturally the butterflies did mount as 10 am approached.

Just before then, the lawyers representing Google (who I won’t name) gave me another document which I just had time to peruse before the Deputy President arrived.

As Google were moving to oppose jurisdiction, they went first. They followed the lines I expected them to, but they threw in a few notes from cases that needed to be looked at a little closer. I’d already looked at three of them from the note given to me on Friday, but they added nine more as authorities. Two of them were old.

But on the other side of the coin – I noticed that none of them involved electronic communication as the core issue. Electronic communication was not involved at all in any of them except one (a fax). I also noticed (if my logic based instinct was right) that the Deputy President was rather sceptical of the line that the defence was taking. I’d already told the lawyer that a key to my case was Gutnick/Dow Jones and I was pretty sure the Deputy President knew of it.

When it was my turn to speak, I focused on that case – and another one; “Godfrey v Demon Internet” (which I mislabelled as Devil Internet to my later embarrassment). The whole idea was to show that extra territorial application was a non issue here. What had happened, happened over the Internet. Dow Jones had made the same claims as Google did regarding their servers (and that was knocked on the head) and ditto the publication of content – except that they pushed it over to John Best Junior and away from themselves. They also erred on the issue at hand. They thought it was the content that was the issue. I corrected that saying that Google’s lack of action under their TOS was the issue.

They also made the ridiculous assertion that dot com domains were American. I was very quick to kill that argument – pointing out that dot com could be purchased anywhere in the world and from non American registrars. Many Australian registrars sell dot com domains. Conversely (as I know through experience with my own website) not only are dot com dot au exclusive to Australia – you have to have an Australian business number to obtain one (which I do for that exclusive purpose as it turned out).

After that it only remained for the defence to comment of the Godfrey case, and then I got the chance to answer one query that was put – was this direct or indirect discrimination I was claiming. I admitted to the omission and answered that it was indirect.

The Deputy President reserved his decision. Now the wait begins and I hope it isn’t too long.

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