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Lumen links land Google into trouble

The Higher Regional Court of Munich has issued an injunction against Google to stop the search engine linking users to the Lumen database. Lumen collects data relating to legal complaints made online for the removal of information and provides users with the source of the content removal. The judgement is interesting as it goes one step further than requiring Google to simply remove related content from search results but prohibits the search engine from linking users to the removed content via its Lumen platform.

The Claimant was a German company. A google search for the Claimant’s name and ‘suspected fraud’ led to news articles showing that the Claimant was being investigated for suspected fraud. The Claimant argued that this was incorrect as it was being investigated for investment fraud, not fraud and therefore under German law the articles may be deemed to infringe the Claimant’s right to publicity.  The Regional Court of Munich found for the Claimant and issued an injunction against Google which then removed the offending articles and provided a link to Lumen instead which when clicked would take users to a page on Lumen which in turn would redirect users to the infringing content.

However, the Claimant then sought a further injunction requiring the Google to remove these links to Lumen. This was initially rejected but on appeal to the Higher Regional Court of Munich, the Claimant was successful.

In finding for the Claimant, the court distinguished between the functions of Google. It found that the Google’s main function was providing a search function which enables users to find the website containing the infringing content. Providing a direct hyperlink to this content was not Google’s function.  On this basis, Google was not following the injunction which had previously been issued against it as by providing users with an explanation about the deleted content and then a link to Lumen, Google was still enabling users to find and read the infringing information. The number of links needed to get to the infringing content was irrelevant.

If you have any questions on the above, please do not hesitate to contact the team at McDaniel & Co. on 0191 281 4000 or legal@mcdanielslaw.com.