Picture This

I was thinking I'd draw the scales of justice to illustrate this post. Never mind that I can't draw, and you might turn the page laughing.

A federal court decision in California makes me pause before reproducing artwork here.

In a ruling that could limit the way people use photographs for their blogs and web sites, a U.S. District Court Judge has sided with Perfect 10, a publisher of adult photographs, and stopped Google from displaying thumbnailed-sized reproductions of its images.

Saying Google was violating copyright law, U.S. District Judge A. Howard Matz judge temporarily restrained the search-engine giant from showing Perfect 10's pictures in any size. He said that Google could hamper the adult provider's efforts to sell small images to mobile phone users.

The judge gave the two sides until March 8 to work out their differences. Google has said it will appeal. Perfect 10 is considering its own appeal of the judge's decision that Google was permitted to link to images, but not show them as thumbnails.

Google, and friends of the court such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, had argued that offering thumbnail of images posted on other Web sites is a "fair use" of the material, and cited a 2002 Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals case that came to the same conclusion, ruling the reproduction improved access to information on the Internet.

Google's attorney, Michael Kwun, issued a statement saying the company expected the injunction would "have no effect on the vast majority of image searches, and will affect only searches related to Perfect 10."

The 48-page opinion was made public Tuesday. It can be read here.

Justice Where did she come from? Because Blinq is part of the Inquirer, I have the benefit of Knight Ridder Tribune wires and Associated Press wires - a wealth of photos and illustrations we pay to use. Fortunate me.

But what about all the other blogs and Web sites trying to illustrate their pieces, or to show not just tell what they are writing about? How does this clarify the emerging concert of fair use?

A tech writer at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says in his blog that the ruling "has landmark written all over it." David Sheets wrote:

Thumbnails are common on numerous Web sites, including this one. If they aren’t allowed in the context of fair use, millions of Web sites probably will have to be redesigned, perhaps drastically. And that will cost a lot of businesses a lot of money. Perhaps a combination of economics and common sense eventually will win out.

Dana Blankenhorn at Corante calls the ruling "a stunner," and "beyond brain-dead:"

They essentially render the Internet impossible. But more important they are counter-productive both to porn sellers like Perfect 10 and news agencies like Agence France-Presse. If an image or story can't be found, it doesn't exist. Since most users search for and find content, rather than going directly to it through an individual site, it is in the best interests of these people to actively cooperate with Google, rather than demand they be expunged from its database. The best way for Google to get back at this point is to simply cooperate. Let them be unfound, and then not exist. But never pay for linking -- never, ever, ever.

Jay Naylor
Posted 02/23/2006 08:03:50 AM

I await with gleeful anticipation Perfect 10's reaction when Google eradicates them from its database.

Posted 02/23/2006 09:42:52 AM

You know I've said it before... these types of complaints seem like someone running around with a bucket on his head screaming "Who turned out the lights?!?!?" Just take the damn bucket off Google's guide to removing stuff from their index and it includes information for customizing robots.txt ... what don't these companies understand?!!? Waiting until the next time googlebot crawls is too long? Google's automatic URL removal system I don't get it...

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Posted 05/03/2006 03:07:10 PM

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