February 21, 2006 2:40 PM PST
Nude-photo site wins injunction against Google
- Related Stories
Google to feds: Back offFebruary 17, 2006
Google's ad sales tested in courtFebruary 13, 2006
New lawsuit looming over Google's use of 'Gmail'?September 13, 2005
Adult-site publisher takes action against GoogleAugust 25, 2005
Vote on .xxx pushed back a monthAugust 16, 2005
Bush administration objects to .xxx domainsAugust 15, 2005
Adult site sues Amazon over sexy imagesJuly 1, 2005
Google loses trademark dispute in FranceJanuary 20, 2005
Google wins in trademark suit with GeicoDecember 15, 2004
(continued from previous page)
Google is facing a growing number of lawsuits that could imperil its lucrative business model, which relies in part on the ability to make "fair use" of copyright works and sell advertisements linked to trademarked keywords.
The Authors Guild sued Google in September, claiming that the Google Print Library Project violated copyright law. The Agence France Press news agency also sued Google for allegedly using photos and headlines in violation of the law.
Google won a case against Geico after a judge ruled that selling ads linked to trademarks was legal, but lost one in France. A federal judge in Nevada ruled last month (click here for PDF) that Google's cache feature is "fair use" of even copyright works.
The Perfect 10 lawsuit has received a high level of public attention, not least because of the 2003 Arriba Soft decision from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. In that ruling, the court sided with an image search engine over a photographer who claimed the automatically generated thumbnails amounted to copyright infringement.
This case is different, Judge Matz ruled, in part because of a financial relationship with AdSense. Although Google claims its policy prohibits such Web pages from being included in its image search, the judge said "Google has not presented any information regarding the extent to which this purported policy is enforced."
A November 2004 post on Overlawyered.com, which boasts of chronicling the "high cost of our legal system," quips that Perfect 10 is "an unsuccessful California pornography business that has branched out into the litigation business."
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital-rights group in San Francisco, filed a friend-of-the-court brief (click here for PDF) siding with Google.
It argues that creating thumbnails is "fair use" under copyright law, "both because it promotes the progress of digital innovation and because it enhances public access to knowledge and information online."
Friday's decision is only a preliminary one, and the next step likely will be an appeal before the 9th Circuit. Unless the appeals court dismisses the case, a trial would have to be scheduled before a final decision--including the question of damages for copyright infringement--would be reached.
Amazon.com, which licenses technology from Google, also has been named as a defendant. The two cases have been consolidated, and Judge Matz said he would publish a second order dealing with Amazon's potential liability.
27 commentsJoin the conversation! Add your comment