Adult entertainment website Perfect 10 has sued Google in federal court, requesting an injunction to shut down Google Image Search.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has gone to bat (PDF) for Google in this case, saying that Google Image Search is fair use under copyright law.
“Google Image Search helps millions of people locate and learn about information on the web every day,” said Jason Schultz, EFF staff attorney. “We’re concerned that the public will lose out if Perfect 10 succeeds in shutting it down.”
Perfect 10 argues that a preliminary injunction is justified because Google is violating its right to reproduce, distribute, and display its copyrighted work. But there is a long tradition in fair use that certain kinds of copies are socially useful, even without permission of the author. Courts have held that copies are a legal intermediate step to making non-infringing uses of the copyrighted work—for example in teaching, education, and news reporting.
Thumbnails created by Google Image Search allow users to identify information they are looking for online and then access that information—much like an electronic card catalog. As certain information about images can only be conveyed visually, there is no other feasible way to provide image search on the Internet than capturing images, transforming them into thumbnails, and then displaying them on a search results page for users. — Electronic Frontier Foundation
In any case, it’s easy enough to set up a robots.txt to prevent your images from being stored in Google Image Search. That Perfect 10 didn’t do this indicates they are a bunch of low-life scum trying to make a quick buck and screw the rest of us in the process.
Perfect 10 is perfectly stupid in this case, and I drink to their ultimate defeat.