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Preliminary injunction against Google image search's display of copyrighted images reversed
May 18, 2007

In a lengthy and tech-heavy opinion [Update (12/4): the court has released an amended opinion, available here], the Ninth Circuit this week reversed a preliminary injunction against Google restricting its image search from displaying thumbnails of images copyrighted by Perfect 10, Inc. There are several aspects of the ruling of interest, such as:

  • Holding that Perfect 10 failed to show Google would not likely prevail on its fair use defense based on its display of copyrighted thumbnail images. At the preliminary injunction stage, this places the burden on the copyright holder to disprove fair use, instead of the reverse at trial.
  • Affirming that Google was not directly liable for providing links to sites displaying the full copyrighted images
  • Remanding the issue of contributory infringement, because there was a factual dispute as to whether Google knew of the infringement, and whether there were "reasonable and feasible means for Google to refrain from providing access to infringing
    images"

The determination on remand of the contributory infringement claims (assuming they do not settle) will likely provide useful guidance for the potential liability of search engines for copyright infringement on the Internet.

Click below for other media and blog coverage of the decision.

Media:

Law.com (a second article)

Washington Post

Associated Press (via Forbes)

Reuters

Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)

Blogs:

Eric Goldman

John Ottaviani

EFF deep links (the EFF also has many of the court documents available here)

How appealing

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