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November 22, 2004
Perfect 10 Sues Google
Last we heard from Perfect 10, the porn purveyer failed miserably in its Induce Act-like attempt to hold credit card companies liable when people use the cards to purchase access to purloined Perfect 10 pics.
Andrew Bridges, a partner in the firm representing MasterCard, observed that the company's attempt to apply the Napster decision to the case shows how law made in extreme cases -- e.g., to fight peer-to-peer file sharing -- can later be applied in different scenarios (*cough* Induce).
"A lot of copyright [litigation] is being pushed by pornographers who are trying to take advantage of cases brought by more mainstream media," Bridges said.
Now Perfect 10 is at it again, this time filing a filing a complaint (PDF) against a company that it presumably hopes will be an easier target: Google.
Writes John Palfrey:
What's intriguing about Perfect 10's claims, and I suspect their best shot at differentiating their claims from previous assaults on search engines, is the way they're trying to hook nearly the entire set of claims on (in a general sense) the notion that Google gets adwords revenue thanks to the porn company's content that's been copied and distributed on "stolen content websites" who in turn pay Google (so one would presume from the complaint, anyway) for click-throughs -- see paragraphs 27 - 34, then claims 2 (contributory infringement of copyright) and 3 (vicarious infringement of copyright) and the subsequent trademark, unfair competition, and right of publicity claims.
In short, Perfect 10 says: Google is profiting -- a lot -- from the bad acts of others and they should stop doing it and pay us for what they've done.
Reading it in the wake of the Jeff Jarvis interview I linked to below, I can't help but imagine how he might respond: "If 'bad actors' can profit this handsomely from the 'distribution' of copyrighted works via P2P or search, why can't we find a way for the 'good actors' -- the copyright holders -- to profit just as much?"
Later (1:20 p.m.): Wendy Seltzer @ Legal Tags: "Perfect 10's complaint doesn't look so strong, but its basic arguments are recurring ones in the online debates: that IP owners should be able to deputize intermediaries as their copyright, TM, etc. cops. (It's no coincidence that Perfect 10's lawyers include Russ Frackman, counsel to the record labels in MGM v. Grokster.) Sure, holding everyone in the chain liable might help stop infringements, but it would also kill search engines, whose value comes from helping users to find whatever they're looking for, if it exists on the Web."
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