Google seems like a lawsuit magnet these days, which probably isn't too surprising. The latest one, though, is going to get a bit of attention, but so far the details aren't clear at all. It appears that a porn site is suing Google for displaying images from that site -- which they claim is a violation of their copyright. The article is too vague on the specifics of the lawsuit, but it raises a bunch of questions. The company in question claims that Google is hurting their business, since they can't charge for what Google is giving away for free. This implies that it's somehow "premium" photos that Google is displaying -- and if it's a subscription service then Google's crawlers shouldn't be able to access them anyway. So, it may simply be that others have taken the photos and copied them on free sites -- which Google scraped. That would be a nearly impossible situation for Google to police widely, and would require the company in question to point out each offender and have Google remove the images -- which would be quite a process. The other possible complaint is that Google is displaying images directly from their site within Google's image search. The only problem with that is that a US court has already ruled that a search engine can display thumbnails and a link to the original. Maybe the company should have filed the lawsuit in Germany where courts ruled the exact opposite, and said that thumbnails were a copyright violation. Either way, if the site didn't want Google scraping them, then why not put up a system to block it (robots.txt, anyone?). The reason, most likely, is that a lawsuit against Google acts as good publicity. Update: As explained by people in the comments, the lawsuit is about the first situation, with a publisher having photos displayed by other sites without authorization, which Google then scraped. So, the simple question is why aren't they going after the infringing sites?
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