A French judge has told Google to devise a way to take down all links to nine images of former F1 boss Max Mosley at a sadomasochistic orgy.
Mosley raised a case at the Paris superior court after claiming Google had not done enough to remove links to nine images of him cavorting with prostitutes - even though he successfully sued the News of the World, which published a video of the orgy, for breaching his privacy.
At a 2008 court hearing in Britain the F1 supremo confessed he had taken part in a sado-masochistic sex party.
Mr Justice Eady ruled the NoTW's allegations that the naughty knees-up had a Nazi theme were false. The judge admitted the orgy involved "bondage, beating and domination" and was "unconventional", but ordered the red-top to pay Mosley £60,000 nonetheless.
Now Google has been told to pay Mosley a token €1 (£0.89) in damages and €5,000 in costs, prompting the advertising giant to protest against the order to build a "censorship machine".
The court told Google to "remove and cease, for a period of five years beginning two months after this decision, the appearance of nine images identified by Max Mosley in the Google Images search engine results".
Mosley has fought Google in a number of countries in a bid to make the photographs and video disappear.
In a statement, Google’s associate general counsel, Daphne Keller, said: "This is a troubling ruling with serious consequences for free expression and we will appeal it. Even though we already provide a fast and effective way of removing unlawful material from our search index, the French court has instructed us to build what we believe amounts to a censorship machine."
However, despite the best efforts of Mosley's crack legal team, the ruling has sparked a new level of interest in the case.
Judging by Google's search stats, there hasn't yet (at the time of writing) been a sudden burst of interest in Mosley, although the number of people searching for his name is nowhere near as high as it was in April 2008 when the story first appeared.
Photographs and video of the orgy are still being distributed in the darker corners of the internet, in the sort of places Google's crawlers don't want to go, as well as on video and filesharing sites it doesn't own.
We're not going to tell readers how to access it (please don't post links to it in the comments – Vulture Central's backroom gremlins), but rest assured it is still out there as, despite outward appearances, Google doesn't rule the internet. It cannot remove content, but can only take down links to content in its search results.
On one well-known website, which we are not naming in deference to Mosley's proven predilection for wielding the legal cudgel, a user wrote: "The elite don't like getting exposed."
El Reg would like to take this opportunity to warn Mosley of a phenomenon known as the Streisand effect, which refers to how trying to ban content from the internet often makes people more likely to share it. Barbara Streisand tried to have pictures of her Malibu mansion removed from a digital collection of Californian coastline photographs, which fewer than 10 people had viewed prior to her unleashing the legal attack dogs. However, after finding out about the pictures, almost half a million people tried to download them.
The same happened to Beyonce, whose publicist famously asked Buzzfeed to take down unflattering images of her SuperBowl performance. The website declined to do so and the snaps quickly became a meme. ®