Perfect 10 Sues Google, Claims Infringement

Rhett Pardon
LOS ANGELES — In one of the first claims of its kind against Google, online adult company Perfect 10 filed a suit against the search engine, claiming it provides surfers with unauthorized links to images of Perfect 10’s nude models.

In a court filing Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court, the Beverly Hills, Calif.-based company says Google provided links to at least 800,000 images and that it deprived it of potential membership fees and advertising revenue.

The filing describes how Google searches pick up photos from “stolen content sites” or websites that steal images and allow surfers to avoid paying subscription or membership fees for members-only sites.

In a letter to Google in June, Perfect 10 attorneys wrote that Internet users can find certain infringed-upon images by “doing advanced Google searches using the model name on the second line and 'nude' on the first line. So, for example, the first URL below was found by doing an advanced Google search using 'nude' and 'Monika Zsibrit.'"

The suit alleges Google committed 12 counts of intellectual property violations against Perfect 10 magazine and the website, including trademark dilution, wrongful use of a registered trademark and unfair competition.

Perfect 10 claims that Google’s practice “threatens the existence” of its business and that the Mountain View, Calif.-based search engine profits from the misdeeds of others on the web. charges $25.50 per month and says it logs 100,000 visitors per month.

U.S. copyright laws place the burden of identifying infringement on the copyright holder. Perfect 10 said it sent Google 27 formal requests to cease with its practice.

In a legal case similar to Perfect 10’s, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that search engines cannot display full-sized images without linking back to the website upon which they were posted.

The court, however, ruled they can display thumbnails without infringing copyrights in Leslie A. Kelly vs. Arriba Soft Corp., No. 00-55521.

Google displays its results in thumbnails but links to websites that Perfect 10 says illegally display full-sized images.

Company representatives from Google and Perfect 10 were unavailable for comment Saturday.