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Judges Call for Fair Use of Porn on Google

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If you’re one of the many Google Image users that have not turned on safe search, you’ll likely be glad to know that the U.S. Court of Appeals has overturned a previous ruling that would have forced Google to remove thumbnail images of porn taken from the Perfect 10 web site.


The appeals court ruled that the thumbnails fell within a “fair use” exception in copyright law because they play a role in the search process and thus have a function different from that of the original photos.

“We conclude that the significantly transformative nature of Google’s search engine, particularly in light of its public benefit, outweighs Google’s superseding and commercial uses of the thumbnails in this case,” Judge Sandra S. Ikuta wrote for the panel.

Google’s not quite out of the woods yet. The panel of judges wants the lower court to take another look at whether Google’s display of thumbnail images, encourages other web sites to distribute copyrighted images.

The appeals court opinion said, “There is no dispute that Google substantially assists Web sites to distribute their infringing copies to a worldwide market and assists a worldwide audience of users to access infringing material.” The appeals court instructed the district judge to evaluate whether Google knew that unauthorized copies of Perfect 10’s photos were being made available and failed to take steps to prevent it.

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Judges Call for Fair Use of Porn on Google
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