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Spanish Supreme Court says Google is not breaching copyright

20 June, 2012

This article is also available in:
Deutsch: Spanien: Google verstößt nicht gegen Urheberrecht

The Spanish Supreme Court ruled on 3 April 2012 that Google was not in breach of copyright with its browser and cache services. The ruling was given in a case filed in 2006 by the owner of a web page ( for having reproduced and made available its contents, by means of the Google search engine and the Google Cache service, without authorisation.

The Supreme Court comes to confirm the previous decision given by the lower court in Barcelona, on 30 March 2007, and the ruling on the appeal of the Provincial Audience of Barcelona, on 17 Sept. 2008, which both concluded the same, although on different grounds.

Regarding the reproduction and making available of parts of the webpage contents, all three courts agreed this was not an infringement of the copyright law as it had a temporary, incidental and minimal character.

The Supreme Court also rejected the infringement claim in relation to Google cache service. The reason that laid at the basis of the decision was the three-step-test guiding the interpretation of the statutory limitations to the exclusive copyrights. Google Cache service is a “socially tolerated” use which was not prejudicial to the interests of the claimant.

The claimant had asked for 2000 Euro in damages and for the shut down the whole operation of the search engine which the court considered a “maximalist petitum". According to the court the copyright laws "do not authorize abusive claims nor absurd hypotheses meant to prejudice another without own benefit".

However, the court made it clear that the ruling only extended to the specific circumstances of the case and that “courts do not solve doctrinal polemics.”

Court decision (only in Spanish, 3.04.2012)

The Supreme Court agrees with Google and considers that its activity
does not breach copyright (only in Spanish, 13.06.12)

The Supreme Court makes clear that the ruling only extends to the specific circumstances of this case and Spanish Supreme Court rules in favour of Google search engine (15.06.2012)



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