F1 Racing Driver Barrichello Wins $500,000 Libel Suit Against Google

Google has been ordered by a Brazilian court to pay Formula One racing driver Rubens Barrichello $500,000 in damages for the presence of fake online profiles of the driver on its social network Orkut, which is hugely popular in the man’s home country.

The civil case, which was filed in July 2006, related to hundreds of fake profiles for Barrichello that were created on Orkut, some of which depicted him as a toy turtle – I kid you not.

Earlier this week, Brazilian media published the outcome of the Sao Paulo court’s ruling, which ordered Google to compensate Barrichello half a million dollars in damages upfront and a daily fine of $590 until all the profile pages relating to the F1 driver were removed from the social network. Note: different media report different amounts.

Google told local reporters that it will always remove illegal content from Orkut but does not feel responsible for all other content that appears on there, and they don’t expect to have to police negative commentary about celebrities. Google can still appeal the case in higher court.

This isn’t the first time Google finds itself in Brazilian courts over Orkut.

On August 22, 2006, a Brazilian Federal Judge ordered Google to release Orkut user’s information of a list of about two dozen Brazilian nationals, believed to be using the social network to sell drugs and to be involved in child pornography. The judge ordered Google to pay $23,000 per day in fines until the information was turned over to the Brazilian government. Google back then stated that it would not release the information, on the grounds that the requested information is on Google servers in the U.S. and not in Brazil, and is therefore not subject to its national laws.

For what it’s worth, multi-millionaire Barrichello was looking for ‘respect rather than money’, and that he would be donating the money awarded to him in court to his non-profit organization Barrichello Kanaan Foundation. On Monday, the F1 driver tweeted a quote from Swiss philosopher Henri-Frédéric Amiel (which I suspect was freely translated from his famous quote “There is no respect for others without humility in one’s self”).

My guess is he simply doesn’t like turtles.

(Via F1Planet)