Perfect 10 Piracy Suit Against Google Is Dismissed

Rhett Pardon

LOS ANGELES — Perfect 10's eight-year legal battle against Google over copying and distributing thumbnails of its images has been placed in the grave.

Both parties have agreed to dismiss the copyright infringement case, and U.S. District Judge Howard Matz recently signed off on the dismissal, noting "no appeal may be taken, and no motion to alter, amend or be relieved from the judgment in this action may be filed, by either party."

Norm Zada, who operates Perfect 10, told XBIZ that the case was dropped because nothing was being accomplished in the U.S. courts and he has decided to focus on a similar case he has waged against Google in Canada.

"We spent $7 million in legal fees fighting Google in those eight years ... three attorneys on our side in this case," said Zada, who declined to comment on whether there was an out-of-court financial settlement in the case. "We're deciding to put our resources in a better place and focus on the other case in Canada."

The U.S. case included 1,212 motions, replies, orders and notices, among others, through its eight-year history that included an appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and two failed requests for a Supreme Court review.

And in a last-ditch effort to save the case, Perfect 10 offered a $25,000 bounty to anyone who could prove wrongdoing on Google’s part. But that initiative failed.

Perfect 10 posted the bounty on its website (and it is still up) asking for evidence of "emails between a webmaster and Google, showing that Google aided or condoned copyright infringement, or that Google was involved in other illegal activities not known to the general public.”

The case got wheels in 2004 when the adult publisher asked a judge to grant a permanent injunction against Google to prevent it from copying and distributing thumbnails of its images, and to stop the search engine from linking to websites where Perfect 10 content was hosted illegally.

Perfect 10 was granted a victory as the court agreed with the adult company’s position on Google’s use of thumbnails, but later the 9th Circuit reversed that ruling, deciding that the utilization of thumbnails amounted to fair use.

In the terms of the dismissal, “Perfect 10 agrees not to commence any future lawsuit against Google in any court arising from any such Google act or omission on or before the date of dismissal of this action, or any such DMCA notices sent by Perfect 10 on or before the date of dismissal of this action,” the court filing reads.

The dismissal, however, doesn't affect the similar litigation against Google in Canada.

In the Canadian complaint, Perfect 10 said Google has infringed on nearly 50,000 of its images — more than 20,000 pictures and 18,000 thumbnails. The suit seeks an injunction and punitive and exemplary damages.

“The Canadian judicial system is more streamlined, ‘fair use’ of photos is much harder to prove and the discovery system there is not so lengthy,” Zada said in a previous interview.

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