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 Use of Thumbnail Images not infringing in Germany

According to the District Court of Erfurt (text in German), Google's use of thumbnails in its image search engine does not vialate German copyright law. People who create web sites have a standing interest in getting other people to learn about and visit their web sites. The depiction of thumbnails is thus, in this case, beneficial for the copyright holder, the court wrote. Webmasters who want to restrict access to their content could make use of the robots.txt file.

The decision stands in direct opposition to a 2003 Hamburg court decision (text in German), which said that Google's image search engine violates copyright law because Google has no permission to display the images.

I personally find the Erfurt court decision more compelling. It also reflects my view, expressed in an article, published in the ZUM 2007, pages 119 - 128.




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