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Germany Parliament approves copyright law

Germany's lower house of Parliament, the Bundestag [official website], on Friday approved a bill to broaden copyright protections for online material, especially news articles. The new law would not charge royalties to search engines, including Google [official website; JURIST news archive], for displaying short passages of text from articles. This provision should assuage previous concerns and campaigns against the potential for a "Google tax." The bill passed with a 293-243 vote, and still needs approval from the upper house of Parliament, the Bundesrat [official website].

In recent years, Google has faced both international and national criticism over its privacy policy. In April the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit overturned an order [JURIST report] dismissing a $1 billion copyright infringement suit against Google, by Viacom [corporate websites], for Google's YouTube [media website; JURIST news archive] service. Last March a Japanese court ordered Google to remove certain search terms [JURIST report] that a Japanese man claimed violated his privacy, by suggesting his name in connection with crimes he did not commit. In February 2012 a judge for the US District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed [JURIST report] a suit from the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) [advocacy website], a consumer privacy group, asking the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) [official website] to block Google's proposed privacy policy changes. The new policy allows a user's information to be shared among different Google products, including YouTube, Gmail, and Google Maps. In April 2010,Germany's Federal Court of Justice ruled that the use of thumbnail preview images [JURIST report] pulled from websites by Google is not a violation of copyright law.

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