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Update 31: June 16, 2005

1. Kalk v. Fairfield Language Techs.

According to the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware ruling from April 22, a plaintiff cannot establish personal jurisdiction over a non-resident party merely because a link to that party's web site is featured in an online directory geared to the forum (defendant's website was mentioned in the Delaware Immigration Directory's website). Absent evidence that the defendant sought to be listed in the directory, there is no basis to conclude that the defendant has "purposefully availed" itself of the forum, the district court held.

Also see: Link from Forum Site to Defendant's Site Is Insufficient Basis to Establish Jurisdiction, Electronic Commerce & Law Report 2005, 463-464


2. Lawsuit Over Gambling Advertisements Continues

Yahoo, Google and several other major websites and companies have been hit with a lawsuit last summer saying they carry online gambling ads in violation of California law (see Update 24; advertising unregulated gambling in California to people in California for play in California is illegal under California criminal law).  Mario Cisneros and Michael Voight filed the suit, claiming that they lost money as a result of gambling in unlicensed online casinos that were advertised alongside search results.$100,000 in the case of Mr. Voight alone.

In June 2005, California state Judge Richard Kramer in San Francisco ruled that the suit can proceed with the evidence gathering process in the case.

Text of the complaint

In 2004, the German Federal Court of Justice had to decide about an hyperlink to a gambling website that had a licence in Austria, but not in Germany (Text of the decision in German, for more information see Update 18).The link could be found at the end of a report about an ex-model that had become a businesswoman and started a gambling company. A competitor in Germany filed a complaint about the article, claiming the hyperlink was advertising in the meaning of § 284 IV of the German Criminal Code (StGB). The court did not follow this assessment, inter alia taking into account the freedom of expression and of the press (Art. 5 GG).

The defendants in the US case should also have strong First Amendment  defenses.


3. Google accused of having a political bias for the Democratic Party

On June 9, 2005 Google banned a previously approved online ad campaign for the new book "Their Lives: The Women Targeted by the Clinton Machine", that documents abuses of power by Bill and Hillary Clinton. According to the author, “Google's decision to reverse its prior approval and shut down this banner ad campaign reeks of political bias. The company's liberal leanings are pretty widely known, but this example of blatant editorial censorship is still shocking.” In his press release he also points out that Google still displays ads disparaging current Republican officials with headlines such as "Hate Bush? So Do We," “Bush Belongs Behind Bars,” and "George W. Bush Fart Doll." A Google spokesman said that the decision was based on Google's policies, that prohibit ads against an individual (Ad text advocating against any organization or person (public, private, or protected) is not permitted. Stating disagreement with or campaigning against a candidate for public office, a political party or public administration is generally permissible. This standard applies to everyone who wants to advertise on Google, whether we agree with their viewpoint or not.), not on their political views. He also indicated that only some of the submitted ads were denied and that the approved ads are still running.

  • June 13, 2005: Richardson, Chris: Author Blames Google For Ad Censorship, Web Pro News:
    "Once again failing to understand the Google AdWords TOS agreement, another person is attempting to make a misguided connection between an AdWords campaign denial by Google and a liberal political bias."

4. Link To Site Selling DVD Circumvention Software has to be removed!

Creating a link to another website which offers illegal software for download, can lead to prosecution for complicity. A Munich court ruled that the online news service Heise may publish an article explaining anti-circumvention technology, but it may not include a link in that article to a Web site where users may download the software. Although no direct link was provided to download the software, the music record industry took Heise to court with allegations of complicity for copyright infringement and won. The court did not agree with Heise's argumentation that their articles and the hyperlink were protected by laws for the freedom of the press. According to the court Heise intentionally provided "assistance in the fulfillment of unlawful acts" and is therefore liable as "an aider and abettor". The court also did not find it relevant that readers were also able to find the product via a search engine. Rather, it ruled that providing a link made finding the software "much easier".

  • May 4, 2005: Heise-Urteil zur Linkhaftung im Volltext, Links & Law

  • April 11, 2004: Libbenga, Jan, Heise ordered to remove link to, The Register:
    "A Munich court has ruled that German news site Heise Online was wrong to publish a link to, a company that advertises software that can play, copy and rip protected audio CDs."

  • Heidrich, Jörg, Verlinken verboten, c't:
    "Dürfen Presseorgane auch nach der Reform des Urheberrechts weiter über eine Software berichten, die den Kopierschutz von CDs und DVDs überwindet?"

  • April 5, 2005, Urteil in Sachen Musikindustrie gegen heise online, Heise:
    "In dem Rechtsstreit (Az. 21 O 3220/05) von acht Unternehmen der Musikindustrie gegen den Heise Zeitschriften Verlag liegt seit heute das schriftliche Urteil des Landgerichts München I vor."

  • March 7, 2005: Münchner Landgericht verbietet Link auf Kopiersoftware-Hersteller, Heise:
    "Einen wichtigen Teilerfolg verbuchte der Heise Zeitschriften Verlag in dem Verfahren von acht großen Unternehmen der Musikindustrie gegen den Verlag vor dem Landgericht München I."

  • January 28, 2005, Abmahnung wegen Link,
    "IFPI Deutschland, der deutsche Ableger des internationalen Dachverbands der Musikindustrie, hat den Heise-Verlag abgemahnt."

Text of the decision


New in Legal Resources

  • Berberich Matthias, Die urheberrechtliche Zulässigkeit von Thumbnails bei der Suche nach Bildern im Internet, MMR 2005, 145-148

  • Jürgens, Uwe / Köster, Oliver, Jugendschutz bei Suchmaschinen, MMR aktuell 1/05, XX-XXI

  • Klein, Andreas, Die Zweitverwertung von Stellenanzeigen, GRUR 2005, 377-383 (zu Deep Links auf Stellenanzeigen 382 f.)

  • Volkmann, Christian, Haftung für fremde Inhalte: Unterlassungs- und Beseitigungsansprüche gegen Hyperlinksetzer im Urheberrecht, GRUR 2005, 200-206

  • Ernst, Stefan, Rechtliche Probleme des Suchmaschinen-Marketings, IT-Rechtsberater 2005, 91-93

  • Nolte, Georg, Anmerkung zum Paperboy-Urteil des BGH, CR 2003, 924-926

  • Kaufmann, Noogie / Köcher, Jan, Anmerkung zu AG Stuttgart - 2 Ds 2 Js 21471/02, MMR 2005, 335-336

  • Graber, David, Extra Delivery Costs Were Unlawfully Hidden Behind Vague "More Info" Hyperlink, Electronic Commerce & Law Report 2005, 301

  • Speer, Lawrence, French Trademark Ruling Against Google Keyword Advertising Upheld on Appeal, Electronic Commerce & Law Report 2005, 296-297

  • Speer, Lawrence, Google Infringed Designer's Mark By Selling Similar Search Engine Keywords, Electronic Commerce & Law Report 2005, 150

  • Speer, Larence, Use of Hotels' Marks as Keywords Deemed Infringing by French Court, Electronic Commerce & Law Report 2005, 93

  • Google's Mark-Triggered Sponsored Links Deemed Actionable Use of Another's Trademark, Electronic Commerce & Law Report 2005, 361

  • Naumann, Andreas, Anmerkung zu AG Stuttgart, Az. 2 Ds 2 Js 21471/92, CR 2005, 70-72

  • Rolf, Weber, Rechtsfragen rund um Suchmaschinen, Schweiz 2003

  • Maaßen, Wolfgang, Urheberrechtsverletzung durch Framing und Deep Link?, 2003

  • Verdi Newsletter 2/2005 mit Schwerpunkt "Framing fremder Webseiten - rechtswidrig oder nicht?"

  • Gabel, Detlev, Die Verwendung von Internet-Hyperlinks aus Sicht des deutschen Lauterkeitsrechts, Diss. 2004

  • Search King Inc. v. Google Technology, Inc., Berkeley Technology Law Journal v19 no1 p551 Annual Review 2004

  • Zynda, Ticketmaster Corp. v., Inc: Preserving Minimum Requirements of Contract on the Internet, Berkeley Technology Law Journal v19 no1 p495-518 Annual Review 2004

  • Link from Forum Site to Defendant's Site Is Insufficient Basis to Establish Jurisdiction, Electronic Commerce & Law Report 2005, 463-464

  • German Court Holds Meta-Search Site Liable For Content Created by Other Search Engines, Electronic Commerce & Law Report 2005, 320-321

  • German Court Orders Removal of Link To Site Selling DVD Circumvention Software, Electronic Commerce & Law Report 2005, 271



The Links & Law website is updated regularily, so  check back for updated information and resources about search engine and linking issues.

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Latest News - Update 71

Legal trouble for YouTube in Germany

Germany: Employer may google job applicant

EU: Consultation on the E-Commerce-Directive

WIPO Paper on tradmarks and the internet

The ECJ and the AdWords Cases



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