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Google Loses Copyright Battle Against German Image Owner

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Google Loses Copyright Battle Against German Image Owner

This case may just be one of the many copyright lawsuits filed against Google, but its implications maybe too big in the long run for Google to just neglect it. According to a Bloomberg report, a German court has ruled in favor of German photographer Michael Bernhard who complained that Google’s preview of the thumbnails of his artwork on Google search violates the property rights for his work. Similarly, cartoonist Thomas Horn also won a copyright case against Google of similar nature – that is Google’s preview of his cartoon works in Google search.

It doesn’t matter that thumbnails are much smaller than original pictures and are displayed in a lower resolution, By using photos in thumbnails, no new work is created,” the German court said.

These two lawsuits may sound just another case of copyright infringement filed against an Internet giant such as Google, but it might establish a “bad” preceedent nonetheless and may affect the future of search results pages.

What if all artists follow in the lead of these two German artists and files a lawsuit against Google for previewing their work? Would Google take a hint and remove thimbnail previews on its Google Image search results pages? But that would be tantamount to eliminating the Image search altogether because what good is an image search engine if you can’t preview the search results before going to the site hosting the image first.

Of course, there are millions of images available online without copyright protection. But filtering those with copyright protection and those which don’t have would take time and entails tremendous effort on Google’s search engine. It’s either Google abandons its image preview for image search or the Image Search page itself.

But then again, the rulings can still be appealed to by Google.

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Arnold Zafra

Arnold Zafra writes daily on the announcements by Google, Ask.com, Yahoo & MSN along with how these announcements effect web ... [Read full bio]

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