Google Loses Thumbnail Case

The issue is: Does a search engine infringe copyrighted images when it displays them on an “image search” function in the form of thumbnails but not infringe when through in-line linking, it displays copyrighted images served by another website?

Plaintiff Perfect 10, Inc. filed separate suits against Google, Inc. and, Inc. and its subsidiary, Inc., alleging copyright and trademark infringement and various related claims. The suits were consolidated. Perfect 10 [then moved] for a preliminary injunction against both defendants, solely on the basis of its copyright claims. Perfect 10 seeks to prevent defendants’ image search engines from displaying “thumbnail” copies of Perfect 10’s copyrighted images and also from linking to third party websites which host and serve infringing full-size images.

The Court conducted a hearing on November 7, 2005. The Court now concludes that Google’s creation and public display of “thumbnails” likely do infringe Perfect 10’s copyrights. The Court also concludes, however, that Perfect 10 is not likely to succeed on its vicarious and contributory liability theories. …

Google argues that the ‘value of facilitating and improving access to information on the Internet … counsels against an injunction.’ This point has some merit. However, the public interest is also served when the rights of copyright holders are protected against acts likely constituting infringement. The Court orders Perfect 10 and Google to jointly propose the language of such an injunction, and to lodge their proposal by not later than March 8, 2006.

United States District Court, Central District of California. Perfect 10, Inc. v. Google, Inc.: Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part Perfect 10’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction Against Google (No. CV-04-9484 AHM). (.pdf, 1.98 MB) Feb. 17, 2006.

Attribution: CopyCense first learned of this story via a post in The Trademark Blog, edited by Marty Schwimmer.


Edward Wyatt. Ruling May Undercut Google in Fight Over Its Book Scans. The New York Times. Feb. 25, 2006.

The Patry Copyright Blog. Google Nudes II. Feb. 23, 2006.

EFF Deep Links. Perfect 10 v. Google: More Smooth Than Crunchy. Feb. 22, 2006.

The Patry Copyright Blog. Google Nudes. Feb. 22, 2006.

Declan McCullagh. Nude Photo Site Wins Injunction Against Google. Feb. 21, 2006.

Elise Ackerman. Judge Says Google’s Image Search Violates Some Copyrights. Feb. 21, 2006.

CopyCense™: K. Matthew Dames on the intersection of business, law and technology. A business venture of Seso Digital LLC.

Written by sesomedia

02/23/2006 at 09:00

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