Google thumbnails OK, federal judge rules

That handy Google feature of displaying postage stamp-size previews on an image search got a stamp of approval from a federal appeals court Wednesday, reports Reuters.A lower court ruled in favor of Perfect 10, an adult magazine and Web publisher, which brought suit against Google and Amazon for displaying unauthorized thumbnail images, violating their copyrights.

That handy Google feature of displaying postage stamp-size previews on an image search got a stamp of approval from a federal appeals court Wednesday, reports Reuters.

A lower court ruled in favor of Perfect 10, an adult magazine and Web publisher, which brought suit against Google and Amazon for displaying unauthorized thumbnail images, violating their copyrights. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed the findings of the lower court on Wednesday. Yet the appeals court said a lower panel should reconsider the issue of whether Google was liable for not taking greater steps to avoid displaying images when the appear on sites that clearly do infringe Perfect10's copyrights.

While Google does generate a little money from AdSense-participating sites that infringe copyright, Judge Sandra Ikuta ruled that "the transformative nature of Google's use is more significant than any incidental superseding use or the minor commercial aspects of Google's search engine and web site."

The case is not over, though, reports Ars Technica.

While Ikuta rejected most of Perfect 10's arguments regarding direct liability for thumbnails, she found that the district court had failed to properly consider whether Google could be found liable under the Napster precedent for failing to respond adequately to Perfect 10's notifications that Google's search results linked to infringing content. She sent the case back to the district court which will give more consideration to whether Google should have done more to remove links to infringing pages.