EFF Backs Google in Perfect 10 Lawsuit

Gretchen Gallen
SAN FRANCISCO – The Electronic Frontier Foundation took sides recently in Perfect 10’s legal pursuit of Google, claiming that the company’s recent filing for a preliminary injunction against Google Image Search would deprive the average web surfer of a valuable online resource if the search function is disabled.

Perfect 10 owner Norman Zada has been at odds with Google and other online search operations, which he claims pilfer copyrighted content from his website Perfect10.com and sister publication Perfect 10 Magazine.

Zada filed a preliminary injunction in August seeking to enjoin Google from copying, displaying and distributing Perfect 10 images through its search service.

But the EFF, a public interest organization, filed a brief Wednesday arguing that a federal district court should reject the request for an injunction because Google Image Search helps millions of people locate and learn about information on the web every day.

"We're concerned that the public will lose out if Perfect 10 succeeds in shutting it down," Jason Schultz, an EFF staff attorney, said. "Without the right to make legal copies, Google Image Search wouldn't be able to help you find a picture of Martin Luther King, Jr., at the Lincoln Memorial, for example."

Schultz believes the outcome of the Perfect 10 suit could have a huge impact on educational research and that with the emergence of digital technologies, the courts have begun to recognize another kind of transformative use serving the public interest – the making and use of intermediate copies of digital computer files for legitimate purposes.

In its friend-of-the-court brief, EFF claims that image copies are a well-established fair use of digital images and they help people find and use the works for informational and educational endeavors.

“There is a long tradition in fair use that certain kinds of copies are socially useful, even without permission of the author,” the EFF argues. “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."

A hearing in the case is set for Nov. 7.