Perfect 10 Sues Google Over Image Search Results

    August 26, 2005

The hotlinking of images is a concern for web owners who have bandwidth issues to consider. Because of this, a number of smaller sites have resorted to blocking one of the biggest hotlinking “offenders,” Google’s image search.

Another issue facing Google Image Search has to do with the serving of copywritten images. A number of companies don’t like their images being shown in GIS results and they normally take steps to prevent this from happening. In fact, Google provides instructions on how to remove images from Google’s index. However, to some companies, apparently this is not enough.

Take, for example, Perfect 10, an adult content web site that provides a large number of images for their audience. According to CNET, Perfect 10 is seeking an injunction against Google for displaying images that are protected under Perfect 10’s copyright. In their filing, which was done in the US District Court in Los Angeles, Perfect 10 asked the court to have Google cease displaying these images in their image search.

Perfect 10’s injunction filing goes hand-in-hand with a copyright infringement lawsuit the site filed against Google in November. Perfect 10 owner, Norm Zada, indicated he had requested Google to cease showing the images in question, which apparently number in the 3000s, back in November of 2001. This request was done under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

There is a level of confusion surrounding Zada’s complaint, however. He states that Google is “copying and showing our work on their Web site. They are also placing ads on these Web sites that are infringing on our work.” Does this mean he has issues with other sites showing Perfect 10’s images or with Google Image Search? If the issue is about other site’s displaying Perfect 10’s images that subsequently show up in a GIS query, then his gripe is with the sites that have stolen his work, not Google. If Zada’s complaint centers on these images appearing in Google’s image SERPs, then perhaps he should have his IT department take some steps to ensure this doesn’t happen.

For instance, Perfect 10 could follow the steps provided by Google, which say:

To remove an image from Google’s image index, add a robots.txt file to the root of the server. (If you can’t put it in the server root, you can put it at directory level.)

Example: If you want Google to exclude the dogs.jpg image that appears on your site at, create a page at and add the following text:

User-agent: Googlebot-Image
Disallow: /images/dogs.jpg

To remove all the images on your site from our index, place the following robots.txt file in your server root:

User-agent: Googlebot-Image
Disallow: /

This is the standard protocol that most web crawlers observe for excluding a web server or directory from an index. More information on robots.txt is available here.

Or, a simple Google search of blocking image hotlinking finds a number of resources providing step-by-step instructions on how to prevent image hotlinking from occurring by using an edited .htaccess file. And yes, this technique works in Google Image Search as well.

Chris Richardson is a search engine writer and editor for WebProNews. Visit WebProNews for the latest search news.