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Adult magazine publisher Perfect 10 Inc. is asking a federal court to prevent Google Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. from displaying pictures and links to the company's copyrighted photos.
Perfect 10, whose namesake magazine competes with other soft porn publications, such as Playboy, sued Amazon.com in June 2005 and Google in November 2004 in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. Amazon.com shows thumbnails of Perfect 10 images through the Internet retailer's A9.com search engine.
The Beverly Hills, Calif., publisher is asking a federal judge to set a Nov. 7 hearing on its request for preliminary injunctions against Seattle-based Amazon.com and Google, based in Mountain View, Calif.. The Amazon.com case is set to be heard that date, but a decision on the Google case is pending, Norm Zada, founder of Perfect 10, said in an interview Thursday.
Amazon.com was not immediately available for comment, but a Google spokesman said in an email, "We believe the lawsuit is without merit and we will defend ourselves against it vigorously."
Perfect 10 objects to having displayed in search results thumbnails of its models' pictures, along with the links to third-party sites where larger photos are available. The pictures are copyrighted, and nearly all the sites are displaying the photos without permission, Zada said.
The publisher argues that both search engines are contributing to the copyright infringement by displaying links to the violators.
"(Google and Amazon.com) are giving away exactly what we are selling," Zada said. "There is no business that can survive if someone comes along and gives away their product."
Zada claims his company has tried to contact the third-party websites, but found most of them are based in foreign countries and nearly impossible to reach. He also argues that Google and Amazon.com are making money illegally on Perfect 10 pictures by selling advertising that appears on results pages.
Perfect 10, according to Zada, has contacted both companies, asking them to remove from their directories the pictures and links. In Google's case, the company has submitted 35 notices of infringement covering photos found on 6,500 Web sites.
Zada is suing the two companies under the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which is meant to protect the rights of copyright holders on the Internet.
The publisher acknowledges that the search engines of entertainment portals Yahoo Inc. and Microsoft Corp.'s MSN also display Perfect 10 photos in the same way as Google and Amazon.com, but the company didn't have the money to take them to court too.
"We don't have the resources to sue everybody," Zada said.
Google is no stranger to allegations of copyright infringement. The company came under fire this month by the Association of American Publishers for scanning and storing in its database copyrighted books found in libraries. Google has suspended the practice until November to give publishers time to contact the company, if they don't want certain titles copied.
The APA, however, insists that it's Google's responsibility to contact the publishers. There has been no resolution to the dispute, an APA spokeswoman said Thursday.