Webmasters Complain Yahoo Is Ripping Them Off

Matt O'Conner
LOS ANGELES — Adult webmasters are echoing a claim Perfect 10 owner Norman Zada has made for years: Search engines erode the value of content from adult websites by serving it up to searchers without authorization and without offering anything in return to the sites the content comes from.

More specifically, some search engines point directly to files rather than the pages that contains the files, allowing searchers to view images or video without visiting the website that hosts the image. What’s more, most search engines do not make it clear to searchers that the images they find are not public domain property, leaving images vulnerable to theft.

In February, Zada won a preliminary injunction against Google to prevent it from linking to full-size images belonging to his company. He argued that Perfect 10 had spent $36 million over the past nine years building its brand, including $12 million spent capturing 800 models in photos.

Zada sued both Google and Amazon.com, which licenses the technology in question from Google. The court granted the preliminary injunction, stating that Google’s linking practices likely amounted to copyright infringement.

Now adult webmasters are feeling Zada’s pain, prompting a post on GFY titled “Yahoo rapes mgp's and makes their own porn video service.”

The post includes a link to a Yahoo page — actually multiple pages — containing hundreds of videos lifted directly from Jerk-Off-TGP.com.

“Pretty fucking ballsy,” poster Smoky the Bear wrote. “They basically recorded every video link on the entire site and are redisplaying them without giving one link back to the site they raped them from. Why would any surfer go to jerk-off-tgp when they can get it all in one easy format from yahoo, just straight videos?”

Adult webmasters aren’t the only ones angry at search engines. Earlier this year, the Motion Picture Association of America sued IsoHunt.com and TorrentBox.com for allegedly providing links to illegal copies of movies and TV shows. In 2005, the Authors Guild and several of its members, including a former Poet Laureate of the U.S., filed a class action suit in federal court in Manhattan against Google over its scanning and copying of books. And Search Engine Watch has called search engines the “weapons of mass destruction of copyright infringement.”

However, there have not been any definitive legal decisions regarding how far search engines can go and what they can do.

Also, a portion of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act known as the DMCA takedown provisions provides safe harbor to online service providers that promptly take down content if someone alleges an infringes of a copyright.