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Google appeals German copyright 'violation'

Battle over Google Image Search photos

Google will appeal two German court decisions that found it violated copyright law by showing thumbnails of works by two artists in search results.

Google has fought this battle before in other countries, sparring in court over the fine line between limited, legal use of copyrighted material and violating intellectual property laws.

The case, which involved Google's Image Search feature in its search engine, concerned a photograph and artwork from two artists. Google will file a single appeal covering both cases to Germany's Supreme Court, according to a company spokesman.

"We believe that services like Google Image Search are entirely legal and provide great value and critical information to internet users," the company said. "Today's decision is very bad for internet users in Germany."

Google argued in its statement that the ruling is bad for websites that generate traffic from people using its Image Search as well as other services.

Google has had mixed results in copyright clashes. Google lost a challenge by Belgium publishing group Copiepresse over the indexing of news stories on Google News.

In the US, Google was sued by Perfect 10, a nude model photo publisher, over thumbnails of material owned by the publisher that were returned in search results.

But a US appeals court ruled in May 2007 use of the material qualified as fair use, the principle that a limited portion of copyright material can be legally used without permission.

The court said full-size images weren't stored by Google and that the search engine merely directs a person's web browser to third-party sites.


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