RealTime IT News

Now Perfect 10 Sues Microsoft

An adult photo publisher Thursday sued Microsoft for copyright infringement, saying the software giant's MSN Search engine displays thumbnails of pirated versions of the company's copyrighted pictures in search results, and that those results include links to the full-size pirated versions.

Never mind that a federal appeals court less than three months ago tossed out an earlier victory in a similar case that the company – California publisher Perfect 10, Inc. -- brought against Google and Amazon.

"Microsoft is showing tens of thousands of extremely valuable celebrity images, along with Perfect 10 images, without authorization, which it obtains from hundreds if not thousands of pirate websites," Norm Zada, president of Perfect 10, said in a statement.

"Search engines could greatly reduce infringement if they would simply delist obvious infringers upon receiving notice, and stop copying and linking to copyrighted works without permission, but that would adversely affect their revenue," Zada's statement continued.

Microsoft  officials had no immediate response.

"It would be premature for us to comment on the complaint itself until we have had time to review it in more detail," a company spokesperson said in a statement e-mailed to internetnews.com.

In the Google  case, the appeals court found in mid-May that the lower court judge had erred in finding that showing thumbnails of pirated photos and providing links to the pirated materials constituted copyright infringement. The appeals court also ruled that the judge erred in granting Perfect 10's request for a preliminary injunction to halt display of the thumbnails of its copyrighted pictures.

Instead, the appeals court found that the thumbnails did not infringe Perfect 10's copyrights because they were "highly transformative" – that is significantly different than the full-sized images -- and thus fit into the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's (DMCA) "fair use" exception.

However, the court did say that Perfect 10 could still pursue a case alleging "contributory infringement" against Google and Amazon's A9.com search subsidiary, a course of action that Perfect 10's attorneys said they were examining at the time.

Perfect 10's press release announcing the Microsoft lawsuit cited the appeals court's ruling regarding contributory infringement.

"In the end, I firmly believe that those who knowingly profit from the theft of billions of dollars of other people's property will lose," Zada's statement said.