Publisher Files Copyright Suit Against Google

An adult publishing company sued Google last week, alleging a dozen counts of copyright infringement.

Perfect 10, a Beverly Hills, CA-based publisher of an adult-oriented magazine and Web sites, asserts that Google aids in the violation of its copyrights through its image search tool, which returns thumbnail photos from sites containing copied pictures of Perfect 10 models. Perfect 10 said Google is complicit by selling advertising tied to searches for Perfect 10 copyrighted terms. The suit claims such searches hurt Perfect 10's business, which primarily makes money through subscriptions to its Web site, by funneling searchers to sites with copied photos.

Perfect 10 states in its suit that pursuing the Web sites hosting the photos would be “economically and practically impossible,” since they are located in several foreign countries.

Google's image search returns thumbnail photos in response to searches. Perfect 10 alleges the display of thumbnails that come from sites violating Perfect 10's copyrights constitutes copyright infringement on Google's part.

The lawsuit further accuses Google of copyright infringement for its Web search. Perfect 10 alleges Google's search index includes Web sites violating its copyrights and providing user names and passwords for unauthorized users to gain access to Perfect 10's Web site.

The suit also alleges Google is in violation of trademark law by selling keyword advertising triggered by Perfect 10's marks.

The Perfect 10 case is the latest in a string of intellectual property suits filed against Google in the United States and Europe. The cases mostly allege Google's paid search program violates trademark law by displaying advertising links from competitors in response to searches on trademarked terms.

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