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Update 33: September 25, 2005

1. Constitutional complaint against hyperlink ban

German Heise Publishing House will file a constitutional complaint against a decision by the Higher Regional Court in Munich (first-instance District Court decision can be found here). The court had ruled that creating a link to another Web site which offers illegal software for download, can lead to prosecution for complicity. 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. The court did not agree with Heise's argumentation that their article and the hyperlink were protected by laws for the freedom of the press.

There have been a lot of lawsuits dealing with hyperlinks to illegal content worldwide, especially to Mp3-music files, but it will be the first time that a national Constitutional Court will rule on a "right to link".


2. The Realworld shut down!

The MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) has forced German download Web portal "The Realworld" to shut down after intense legal pressure. The site did not host any copyrighted files, but provided ed2k links that can be used to find content on the eD2K network. “TRW is under legal attack and forced offline for the time being,” says the site, that specialized in TV episodes. The operator is now appealing for donations for “legal defence”.


3. Google and Geico resolve trademark lawsuit

Google Inc. has resolved a trademark infringement case filed by Geico over Google's AdWords practices (for more information on the lawsuit click here!). The terms of settlement remain confidential.

  • September 9, 2005: Google and GEICO settle AdWords dispute, The Register:
    "Google and car insurance firm GEICO have settled a trade mark dispute over the search engine's sale of sponsored search terms "Geico" and "Geico Direct"."


4. GMail - The next legal threat

A Hamburg court temporarily ordered Google to change the name of its Gmail product in Germany, after Google was sued by Giersch Ventures. Now the product is called "Google Mail" in Germany, pending the outcome of that trial (also see Update 30). Now Google is facing yet another GMail lawsuit, this time in Great Britain: After 15 months of negotiations with Google, Independent International Investment Research, who has been using the "G-Mail" name for its Pronet subsidiary's Web-based e-mail product since May 2002, has been unable to reach a settlement with Google on use of the trademark and may sue the search engine.

  • September 12, 2005: Costello, Miles, New legal threat to Google over GMail, Times Online
    "Google, the internet search engine, is facing a renewed threat of legal action from a company that claims to own the intellectual property rights to its GMail e-mail service."


5. Lane's Gift and Collectibles Click Fraud Lawsuit belongs in state court

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis, Ark., has declined to overrule a federal district judge's decision to send the case back to Miller County Circuit Court in Texarkana, Ark., where it was originally filed  According to the court the class-action lawsuit by Lane's Gifts and Collectibles alleging ``click fraud'' by Google Inc. and other Internet companies should be heard in state court rather than in a federal courtroom. The suit was filed before President Bush signed legislation that funnels most class-action lawsuits to federal court.


6. Baidu sued over free MP3-download links

As of September 2005, is the fifth most visited site on the Internet and dominates the search engine market in China. Baidu accounts for 37% of the Chinese search market, followed by Google with 23% and Yahoo! Inc on 21%. Perhaps the most popular feature about Baidu that Google does not support is the MP3 search. This is very similar with the image search of Google, however, it searches for MP3/WMA/SWF files instead of image files. The MP3 search is mainly used for Chinese Pop Music. Many results lead to illegal copies of songs. This is the reason why Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group Corp, EMI Group Plc and Universal Music Group are suing Inc in the Beijing Intermediate Court for allowing free downloads of their music.

As internet usage soared in Asia in recent years, the music industry's revenue has fallen dramatically, largely due to MP3 downloads from unauthorised sources.

  • September 16, 2005: Five Music Companies Sue Baidu, Search Engine Watch
    "Baidu sued over music downloads from the Hong, from the Hong Kong Standard, reports that several large music companies are suing Chinese search engine Baidu for allegedly making hundreds of songs easily accessible via their MP3 search tool."


7. Authors Guild sues: Google Print a massive copyright infringement?

The Authors Guild, which represents 8,000 authors in the United States, has filed a class-action copyright infringement lawsuit [PDF] against Google in the Southern District of New York because of its Google Print program that makes books and other offline information searchable online. Google has contracted with several public and university libraries to create digital archives of the libraries' collections of books. The suit alleges that by reproducing a copy of these works that are not in the public domain, Google is engaging in massive copyright infringement.

“This is a plain and brazen violation of copyright law,” said Authors Guild President Nick Taylor. “It’s not up to Google or anyone other than the authors, the rightful owners of these copyrights, to decide whether and how their works will be copied.”

In a first reaction, Google regrets "that this group chose to sue us over a program that will make millions of books more discoverable to the world -- especially since any copyright holder can exclude their books from the program." Google also did point out, that its programm "doesn’t show even a single page to users who find copyrighted books through this program (unless the copyright holder gives us permission to show more). At most we show only a brief snippet of text where their search term appears, along with basic bibliographic information and several links to online booksellers and libraries."


  • September 21, 2005: Orlowski, Andrew, Authors sue Google, The Register:
    "The Authors Guild, along with a former US poet laureate, is suing Google for copyright infringement."

  • September 21, 2005: Google wegen "massiver Copyright-Verletzungen" verklagt, Heise:
    "Die Autorenvereinigung Authors Guild und einige einzelne Autoren haben gegen Google eine Sammelklage eingereicht."

  • September 20, 2005: Mills, Elinor, Authors Guild sues Google over library project, CNet:
    "The Authors Guild on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against search engine Google, alleging that its scanning and digitizing of library books constitutes a "massive" copyright infringement."


New in Decisions

OLG Hamburg, Beschluss vom 19.1.2005, Az. 3 U 171/04, CR 2005, 459-460 = MMR 2005, 471

Governement Employees Ins. Co. v. Google Inc., United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia - Alexandria Division, August 8, 2005

LG Regensburg, Urteil vom 15.2.2005, Az 2 S 340/04


New in Legal Resources

  • Schreibauer, Marcus / Mulch, Joachim, Neuere Rechtsprechung zum Internetrecht, WRP 2005, 442 ff.

  • Schuster, Fabian / Kemper, Birgit / Schütze, Marc / Schulze zur Wiesche, Jens / Chargè / Dierking, Laur, Entwicklung des Internet- und Multimediarechts im Jahre 2004, MMR-Beilage 5/05

  • Lejeune, Mathias, Anmerkung zu LG München I, Urteil vom 7.3.2005, CR 2005, 463-464

  • Ernst, Stefan, Anmerkung zu LG Hamburg, Urteil vom 21.9.2004 - 312 O 324/0402 - Internet-Suchmaschine, ZUM 2005, 336

  • Index of Links to News Articles Doesn't Infringe Copyrights, Says Google, Electronic Commerce & Law Report 2005, 679

  • Suit Alleges "Click Fraud" at Google, Asks Search Engine to Track, Pay Customers, Electronic Commerce & Law Report 2005, 680

  • Gercke, Marco, Anmerkung zu AG Bielefeld, Urteil vom 18.2.2005, Az. 42 C 767/04, MMR 2005, 557-558

  • Feig, Erik / Westermeier, Keyword Advertising: Why All the Fuss?, CRi 2005, 48-56

  • Hunziker, Manfred, Besprechung der Diss. "Urheber- und wettbewerbsrechtliche Probleme von Linking und Framing" von Stephan Ott, UFITA 2005, 593-596

  • Joslove, Bradley / Krylov, Andrèi, Dangerous Liaisons - Liability in the European Union for hypertext linking and search engine services, CRi 2005, 33-39



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

You are currently in the archive with older news. A complete list of the updates can be found here!

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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