John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Judges Give Perfect 10 a Zero in Google Suit

Softcore porn site Perfect 10 may have a knack for photographing naturally beautiful women, but its legal skills are a bit lacking. The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court’s ruling Google did not infringe on Perfect 10’s copyright by displaying thumbnail images of its nude photographs, ruining the online nudie site’s plan to diversify its revenue stream.

For those of you just joining us, some background: In November 2004, Perfect 10 asked a federal district court judge to bar Google from indexing pictures and links to the company’s photos. Perfect 10 objected to Google search results displaying thumbnails of its photos, along with the links to third-party sites providing larger versions. The pictures were copyrighted, it claimed, and many of the sites included in Google’s search results were using them without permission.

“In some cases, as many as 96% of Google search results on Perfect 10 model names go not to, but to infringing Google AdSense partners of which Google has received notice,” Perfect 10 founder Norm Zada argued at the time. “That’s not legitimate search. Google’s extraordinary gain in market cap from nothing a few years ago to close to $80 billion is more due to their massive misappropriation of intellectual property than anything else. Google is currently displaying over 3,000 Perfect 10 copyrighted images and linking them to Web sites containing numerous other Perfect 10 copyrighted images and in many cases ads for which Google earns revenue. Google is no longer a legitimate search engine. It is a commercial advertising operation determined to increase ad revenue regardless of what rights it tramples on in the process. If all an infringer needs to avoid liability is to provide some sort of a ‘search function,’ that will be the end of intellectual property in this country.”

Some corollary, right? How ironic is it that Zada’s father, Lotfi Zadeh, is known as the father of fuzzy logic?

Anyway … after years of litigation, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals appears to have slapped down Perfect 10 once and for all, ruling that it failed to show that it suffered irreparable harm at Google’s hands. If the site, as it claimed, suffered over $50 million in losses from 1996 to 2007, it has no one to blame but itself.

“While being forced into bankruptcy qualifies as a form of irreparable harm, Perfect 10 has not established that the requested injunction would forestall that fate,” Judge Sandra Ikuta wrote for the court. “Perfect 10 has not shown a sufficient causal connection between irreparable harm to Perfect 10’s business and Google’s operation of its search engine.”

[Image credit: Leo Reynolds]

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