Zada told XBiz that the case could have far-reaching consequences for search engines in determining whether they should be held liable for misappropriating content that is called up in user searches.
The lawsuit targets Amazon’s subsidiary search engine called A9.com, which Zada claims has been copying, displaying and distributing Perfect 10 images. Perfect 10 is seeking an injunction against the Seattle-based retailer and unspecified damages.
In the lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court, Beverly Hills-based Zada is claiming that Amazon’s A9.com has displayed Perfect 10’s images for the purposes of drawing traffic and producing ad revenue, without giving proper attribution to Perfect 10.
The injunction claims that Amazon gives away, via A9, photographic images to its customers without obtaining any permission from the copyright holder. Among those images, more than 1,000 are owned by Perfect 10.
Zada said that out of 1.5 million searches on Perfect 10 models, only 10 linked back to his website where the original, copyrighted material was featured.
“We believe very strongly in the fact that just because they have a search function does not make misappropriation of copyrighted images legal,” Zada said. “Having a search function should not give companies immunity from copyright infringement.”
Under U.S. copyright laws, plaintiffs in the case can seek up to $150,000 for each instance their copyrights are infringed upon.
“What is going on that there is a massive battle for eyeballs,” Zada said. “The search engines get their ad dollars from people who go to them to look for things, but they are getting a lot of eyeballs they don’t deserve and in the process are trampling on Perfect 10 and other copyright holders. They are going to lose this case big time.”
Zada filed a likeminded lawsuit against the Mountain View, Calif.-based company in November 2004 claiming that Google provides surfers with unauthorized links to images of Perfect 10’s nude models. Zada alleged in the suit that Google featured links to at least 800,000 images. That case is ongoing, and Zada is planning to file a preliminary injunction against Google in the coming months.
“These people in my mind are not legitimate search engines, they are advertising operations to make money at the expense of copyright holders,” Zada said.
Perfect 10 has sent upwards of 34 notices of infringement to Google and seven to Amazon, Zada said, and but both continue to display his copyrighted images without authorization.
Zada told XBiz that over the past six years he has lost more than $35 million to copyright infringement and spent nearly $12 million in legal fees defending Perfect 10 content.
The lead attorney in the case, Russell Frackman of Mitchell, Silverberg & Knupp, represented the Recording Industry Association of America infringement lawsuit against Napster.