Google has hit out at accusations it was slow to react to Celebgate photos on its sites, saying it removed "tens of thousands" of the leaked images.
The company was threatened yesterday with a $100m suit by lawyers representing some of the stars whose photos were stolen from their hacked celebrity iCloud accounts and published online. The lawyers have accused Google of ignoring take down requests for the images hosted on Google properties, but the search giant has claimed it took rapid action.
"We've removed tens of thousands of pictures — within hours of the requests being made — and we have closed hundreds of accounts," Google said in a statement to ZDNet. "The internet is used for many good things. Stealing people's private photos is not one of them."
The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday published a letter to Google from Hollywood lawyers representing "over a dozen" of the celebrity victims of last month's leak of nude photos.
The lawyers accused Google of failing to expeditiously remove the photos as it is required to do under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. They also demanded that Google remove the images from Blogger and YouTube as well as suspend or terminate any offending accounts.
The lawyers claimed that four weeks after sending the first DMCA takedown notice relating to the images, and filing over a dozen more since, the photos are still available on the Google sites.
They claimed that Google is "making millions and profiting from the victimisation of women" and therefore is exposed to compensation and punitive damages that "could well exceed" $100m.
Similar questions over profit from the 'Celebgate' scandal were directed at Reddit, whose Fappening subreddit generated enough Reddit 'Gold' to run its servers for a month.
The legal threat to Google follows earlier efforts by lawyers representing Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander to have images linked to him and Kate Upton removed from Google search results.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, one week after Google was requested to remove 461 URLs from its search results, 51 percent remained. Today, according to Google's own Transparency Report figures, 444 of those links have been removed.