German Court Says Google Image Search Doesn’t Infringe On Copyrights

Over in Germany, a court has ruled that Google does not infringe on the copyright for images when it displays thumbnails of those images in its image search. This is, obviously, quite a good ruling. If it had gone the other way, it would have effectively killed Google’s image search. While there are some similarities to the court rulings against Perfect 10 (who has sued various search engines for displaying thumbnails) in the US, there is one major difference. With Perfect 10, the complaints were mainly about search engines indexing images copied/scanned by others. In this German case, the artist was upset that Google showed images that she, herself, put on the website. It seems that this particular point made a strong impression on the judge, who noted that “The plaintiff made the content of her site available without using technical tools to block search engines from finding and displaying her works,” and because of that, Google “was allowed to interpret the plaintiff’s behavior as agreeing to use her works in image searches.” Always nice to see a reasonable ruling.

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