Thank you US Federal Court for ensuring that Google image searches will remain randomly entertaining for years to come. The Court overturned a February ruling that said Google image search thumbnails could potentially damage a porn site’s ability to sell images to mobile phone users. The overturn renders the thumbnails legal under fair use laws. Google shares have not been materially impacted by the news, despite its monumental importance.
The site/magazine that brought the suit against Google is Perfect 10. How is a pornographic website defined in legalese (besides awesomely)? The original ruling (which can be viewed here) states that the plaintiff:
P10 publishes the adult magazine “PERFECT 10” and operates the subscription website, “perfect10.com,” both of which feature high-quality, nude photographs of “natural” models…Attached hereto as Exhibit A is an example of the two-frame structure just described, containing in the upper-frame one of the thumbnail images that appeared on the display of thumbnails retrieved by an image search for “Vibe Sorenson,” a P10 model.
So imagine a bunch of state and federal justices, looking at dirty thumbnails and comparing them to original sized photos. Exhibit A is attached at the end of the .pdf (unfortunately it’s only of Vibe’s topless back). By the way, doing a Google image search for “Vibe Sorenson” is worth it (click here, image #3 doesn’t disappoint).
Ever need a legal euphemism for getting off? - “For some viewers, P10’s use of the photos creates or allows for an aesthetic experience.” Now you can ask that hot paralegal at Skadden if she’s into “allowing for an aesthetic experience.” In the original case, Google was a bit sick of skirting around the real utilitarian use of porn image searching. The Court smacked them down by using the Duchamp “what is art?” defense:
Google argues that P10’s works are not creative because P10 “emphasizes the objects of the photographs (nude women) and [P10] assumes that persons seeking Perfect 10’s photos are searching for the models and for sexual gratification.” The Court rejects this argument. The P10 photographs consistently reflect professional, skillful, and sometimes tasteful artistry. That they are of scantily-clothed or nude women is of no consequence; such images have been popular subjects for artists since before the time of “Venus de Milo.”
The Federal Court must not have had the same aesthetic sensibilities, or quality of "aesthetic experiences."
Google wins adult photos appeal [BBC]