Google's victory in court against German publisher

By EDRi · July 5, 2006

(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

Google has just obtained a significant victory against the German publisher
Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft (WBG), having asked an injunction in a
German court to stop the giant from scanning books in its Books Library

WBG dropped their case on 28 June after the judge told them they had poor
chances in winning. Although backed by the German publishers associations,
the publisher failed to bring arguments in support of its action and the
court ruled that there was no copyright violation resulting from the
development of Google’s project.

Google has undertaken to digitize library books and place the contents on
its search engine working within this process with six US libraries and one
in Oxford. The books that are out of copyright will be accessed without any
restrictions while books that are found to be covered by copyright are only
presented with bibliographic data and a few snippets. However, even for a
copyrighted book, Google has to scan the entire book in order to create the
index used for its search engine.

The German publisher wanted to stop Google from scanning copyrighted books
without permission but the court admitted Google’s argument that the
publishing of short snippets did not infringe the German copyright law.

To make thinks even more complicated, Google considers that the action of
copying a book is covered by the copyright law of the country where the book
is copied and not by that of the country where the book publisher is.
Therefore if it scans a book from a US library is has to comply to US
copyright laws.

But Germany is not the only country where the giant faces opposition to this
project. The French group La Martiniere is also suing Google for
“counterfeiting and breach of intellectual property rights” as reported by
Agency France-Presse.

France’s National Publishers’ Union, representing over 400 publishers, has
also threatened to take Google to court and publishers in UK have expressed
opposition to the project as well. Google faces two lawsuits in the United
States from author and publisher groups on the same issue.

After the court ruling on 28 June, Google stated that they recognised the
importance of the copyright law as they considered that authors and
publishers were entitled to be rewarded for their creations. Google also
believes the project would also serve authors and publishers as their books
will be easily searchable on the search engine and it will also be easy for
the users to buy them.

David Drummond, senior vice president also expressed the dedication of the
company to the project. “Google is passionate about the digitization of
books, which we believe benefits everyone by making the world’s knowledge
more accessible”.

Legal victory for Google in library project (29.06.2006),,1808770,00.html

Partial Success for Google in a German Courtroom (29.06.2006),2144,2073046,00.html

Google Book project gets reprieve in Germany (29.06.2006)