Abstracts and the Internet


Jens Künzel

It is a fact of life that sometimes one does not have as much time as one would like to do all kinds of things.

And one thing many of us would like to spend more time doing is reading lengthy reviews of books in the national newspapers. This has prompted some adventurous Internet entrepreneurs to offer abstracts of these sometimes lengthy reviews in the form of concise summaries on the Internet platform www.perlentaucher.de, a site that offers not only these abstracts, but is also an online cultural magazine.

However, since these abstracts almost necessarily borrow the reviews’ most original phrases and also quote from them in order to give the reader an idea of what the critic intended to say, for many users, the site has become a kind of substitute for reading the newspapers in which the original reviews were published. Moreover, the owners of the Perlentaucher site sought to commercialise the abstracts and licensed them to other sites such as www. amazon.de for use in connection with online book sales.

One of the most prestigious of German national daily newspapers, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, sued the owner of the Perlentaucher site for copyright and trademark infringement. It argued that the licensing of the abstracts infringed its copyright to the original reviews published in its newspaper. The use of the name Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, or FAZ, in the context of the abstracts was criticised as an infringement of the registered trademarks ‘Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung für Deutschland’ and ‘FAZ’.

Online book reviews, abstracts