Last November, Zada filed suit against Google accusing the search giant of knowingly stealing his company’s intellectual property in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The suit alleges 12 counts of trademark dilution, wrongful use of a registered trademark and unfair competition.
“This is not what major corporations should be doing,” Zada told XBiz. “These search engines have become the largest pornographers in the world.”
Zada estimates that copy infringements and related lawsuits are costing both his magazine and website, perfect10.com, roughly $4 million a year.
“I can’t even make money with my films because everybody is showing them free of charge,” Zada said. “What business can survive when its product is being given away for free?”
Zada said Google makes the matter worse by linking images back to the sites that stole them in the first place, despite the fact that he has made numerous requests for Google to fix the problem.
“Since May 31, I have sent Google 32 Digital Millennium Copyright notices covering more than 5,000 infringing URLs, and they have done next to nothing about it,” he told XBiz. “They know porn sells, and they’re getting lots of traffic from it and millions of dollars in advertising.”
The lawsuit also alleges that some of Google’ search results return links to password-hacking sites that give surfer access to perfect10.com's paid membership area. It further claims that Google’s thumbnail-size images are hindering sales of the company’s cellphone content in overseas markets.
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.
Perfect 10’s suit against Google is scheduled to be heard in the same court, and Zada said he is encouraged that the this time around the court will move to protect thumbnails because his company sells thumbnail-size content specifically for cellphones.
Zada said the case will not go to trial until next year, but he has not ruled out the possibility of taking some action beforehand, such as a motion for preliminary or summary judgment, to try to stop the financial bloodletting.
In its response to the lawsuit, Google asserted it is helping Perfect 10 by raising awareness of its original material, but Zada isn’t buying it.
“It’s a thief’s paradise,” he said. “They are able to steal unlimited quantities of intellectual property anonymously through fake registrations. And the search engines brazenly support it and profit from it. There’s no difference between them and the guys who are showing the stolen images.”