Using the incommensurable quantity of information in the World Wide Web effectively is almost impossible without calling on search services. Search engine providers have a central function in the structuring of existing knowledge, and for many Internet users a search engine is, in fact, the starting point every time they look into the Internet.
The way search engines function technically involves an automatic search of all websites. Examining the websites for content “online” is impossible in that process. The content found is instead held in a buffer and, when it is sought by the user, so-called hit lists, which contain short extracts from the contents found or also so-called thumbnails, that is greatly reduced versions of images published in the internet, are displayed, as well as links to the respective websites.Regarding thumbnails the BGH has ruled in the decisions Vorschaubilder I and II that the rights owners basically agree to the infringement by the search engine when rights owners themselves or a third party have provided the image with consent of the creator without making technological arrangements to keep search engines from finding and showing the respective image.