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Deutsche Bahn recently sent letters to all three US search engine operators asking them to remove the hyperlinks to the online copies of two articles from the German-language left-wing publication, Radikal, which has been outlawed in Germany. The articles detail how to cut power on parts of the railway system.
"We wrote to Google and told them that there is illegal content on their pages and that they are linking to pages with illegal content. They have not answered us, so we will file a lawsuit," said Christian Schreyer, head of the legal department for media and competition law at Deutsche Bahn in Berlin.
Google offers a hyperlink and has the Web pages with the articles in question in cache, allowing a user to view them on the Google Web site, Schreyer noted.
AltaVista and Yahoo! have two more days to respond to the letters sent by Deutsche Bahn, while Google's deadline passed (yesterday) Tuesday. If there is no response from AltaVista and Yahoo!, lawsuits will be filed "later this week or early next week". Schreyer said.
He added that the articles, published under the headline "A handbook for destruction of railroad transport of all kinds", are used by groups protesting against the transport of radioactive material.
"We always have trouble with people sabotaging our system and people were following these instructions," he said.
The announcement of legal action against the search engine companies comes a day after Deutsche Bahn won a case in the Amsterdam District Court that forced Internet service provider XS4ALL Internet to block access to the articles hosted on its servers. Deutsche Bahn wants the search engine links removed. The articles are now inaccessible.