By Lisa Baertlein
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A California-based pornographer said on
Monday it has sued Google Inc. alleging that its leading Internet
search engines are illegally allowing people to view hijacked versions
of its nude photos and to access its Web site with stolen passwords.
Perfect 10 -- whose current slogan is "The World's Most Beautiful
Natural Women" -- alleged in a lawsuit filed in federal court in Los
Angeles on Friday that Google's image search engine gives users
illegal access to photos it owns and produced, violating copyrights
and harming its ability to profit from the distribution of the photos
via its magazine and Web site.
Further, a Google Web search for "perfect10.com passwords" serves up a
list of usernames and passwords that would enable searchers to access
Perfect 10's Web site and bypass its $25.50 monthly membership fee.
"They're showing the pictures from my magazine and my Web site for
free so there's no reason for anyone to buy my products. To add insult
to injury, they give away my user names and passwords," said Norm
Zada, president of Beverly Hills, California-based Perfect 10.
Zada added that his company had sent almost 30 formal requests to
Google, asking the newly public company to remove the photos and
password lists from its search results. He said it sued after being
dissatisfied with Google's response.
In its lawsuit, Perfect 10 charges Google with copyright and trademark
infringement and circumvention of copyright protection systems. It
further alleges trademark dilution, unfair competition and violation
of rights of publicity.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.
Google (GOOG.O) had not reviewed the lawsuit, said a spokesman, who
declined further comment.
In 2002, a federal appeals court ruled that Web sites may reproduce
and post "thumbnail" or down-sized versions of copyrighted
photographs. Nevertheless, it said displaying full-sized copies of
photographs is a copyright violation.
Google's image search results show photographic thumbnails. Some of
those thumbnails link to sites that Perfect 10 said are illegally
displaying full-sized photographs it owns.
Earlier this year, Perfect 10 sued Visa, MasterCard and other
financial institutions, alleging they facilitated and have profited
from the illegal sale of pirated sex images flooding the Internet and
thus should bear responsibility for any related copyright violations.
Google, which went public in mid-August and runs a very profitable
advertising business, has been hit with several intellectual property
lawsuits from advertisers seeking to protect their trademarks.
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