The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its decision for Perfect 10 v. Google on May 16, 2007. The appellate court overturned a lower court decision, which held that Google's thumbnail versions of Perfect 10’s full-size images likely constituted direct copyright infringement.
The 3-judge panel ruled that Google’s use of thumbnail images constituted “fair use” under US copyright law and lifted the preliminary injunction against Google. However, a ruling on whether Google was potentially liable for contributory infringement (i.e. intentionally inducing or encouraging direct infringement) by providing links to infringing full-size images, was remanded to the lower court to resolve certain factual disputes. The court stated that Google could be held contributory liable if it had knowledge that infringing Perfect 10 images were available using its search engine, and could have taken simple measures to prevent further damage to Perfect 10’s copyrighted works, but failed to take such steps. Also remanded was the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) defence raised by both Google and Amazon; this defence limits the liability of a service provider in certain cases for linking to an infringing website.
The court upheld the lower court ruling that Perfect 10 had failed to establish the control over third-party websites required for vicarious infringement (i.e. profiting from direct infringement while declining to exercise a right to stop or limit it).
For a copy of the decision, visit: