Nearly a year and a half ago, we wrote about an online "adult entertainment" company that was suing Google over thumbnails in its image search. This was problematic for a few reasons. First, other US courts have said that simply linking to images via thumbnails isn't copyright infringement. Second, and more importantly, the real copyright infringement here was that others had taken these photos from a fee-based site and put them online. In other words, it wasn't even Google that was infringing on anyone's copyrights, but those who reposted the photos online. The company should have been going after those actually responsible -- but went after Google because it's the big easy target with the most money. Apparently, the company's lawyers have convinced the judge, who has now issued an injunction against Google, for simply indexing and linking to images that were freely available online. The judge's reasoning focuses on two issues, neither of which seem particularly relevant to the actual case. First, some of the sites that have posted the unauthorized photos are also using Google AdSense to make money. Again, that's separate from what the original suit was about -- Google's searching capabilities. And, once again, the real issue is the sites that are hosting these photos. If those sites were stopped from hosting the images, the Google AdSense point wouldn't matter. The second issue is that the porn company offers a "mobile" service, that shows similarly sized thumbnails for a fee -- and so the judge says that Google's thumbnails take away from that service. Again, though, Google has no way of knowing these photos are from. It's just indexing the public internet. So, again, we have to wonder why the judge is punishing Google, when the real culprits are those who took the photos and reposted them to the web? The judge should be asking the other company why it decided not to go after those actually responsible.
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