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Google Blasts Ruling on Images in Search Results

Google's in a legal tussle over images again.

The search giant said it would appeal two decisions by a German court this week related to the use of thumbnail images in search results.

In the first, Google had come under fire for its preview of a picture by photographer Michael Bernhard. In a second case, Thomas Horn, who owned the copyright to some comics, had complained that they were being displayed in the company's search results.

In both cases, the plaintiffs argued that Google violated their copyrights, the Regional Court of Hamburg ruled against the search giant in each.

Google said it will challenge the verdicts.

"Google is disappointed and intends to appeal the ruling to the German Supreme Court because we believe that services like Google Image Search are entirely legal and provide great value and critical information to Internet users," a Google spokesperson said in a statement. "Today's decision is very bad for Internet users in Germany, it is a major step backwards for German e-business in general and it is bad for the thousands of Web sites who receive valuable traffic through Image Search and similar services."

The question of thumbnails and images in results has come up before for Google (NASDAQ: GOOG). Last year, the company won a long-running case in the U.S. brought by Perfect 10, a California firm that publishes a print magazine and a subscription-only Web site featuring exclusive photos of nude models.

The publisher sued in November 2004, claiming Google's image search engine displayed thumbnails of Perfect 10 models' photos and provided links to full-size images -- most of which had actually been illegally republished on pirate sites.