After losing to Google, "tasteful" nude site sues Microsoft

The publisher of Perfect 10 claims search engines should pay him damages for linking to illegal copies of his pictures of naked women.

Published August 9, 2007 8:32PM (EDT)

Norm Zada, the founder of Perfect 10, a Web site that specializes in "tasteful" nude imagery, has a problem. (Whatever your taste, that link is NSFW.)

Zada publishes a lot of pictures of pretty naked ladies -- but technology seems to have disrupted the torrent of cash you'd imagine would ordinarily flood toward such a venture. Unscrupulous Web operators too cheap to find and tastefully photograph clothes-free women of their own have, it seems, taken to stealing Perfect 10's images -- and not only that, but Google, Amazon and Microsoft are displaying these illegally copied images in their search engines. Norm Zada, then, has no choice -- with his nudes roaming free across the Web, he's got to call his lawyers.

So today Zada announced he's suing Microsoft. The cause: In its search engine, the company indexes and displays thumbnail images of copyright-infringing versions of Zada's tasteful shots. "Microsoft is showing tens of thousands of extremely valuable celebrity images, along with Perfect 10 images, without authorization, which it obtains from hundreds if not thousands of pirate websites," Zada says in a press release.

"Search engines could greatly reduce infringement if they would simply delist obvious infringers upon receiving notice, and stop copying and linking to copyrighted works without permission," he adds.

Well, sure. And the world would be a far more fantastic place if we could simply run our cars on trash. But sometimes things aren't as easy as they look.

Forcing search engines to decide which content to list based on whether the source is "a pirate" or not will turn them into bureaucracies rather than tech firms. Google says it's come up with a way to determine if infringing content gets on YouTube; I'll believe that when I see it, but at least for now, Zada's request -- making search engines punish people that are allegedly defrauding Zada -- sounds loopy to the extreme.

But what's this? Does Zada have the law on his side? Well, look, that's what his press release says: "Recently, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that Google could be contributorily liable for copyright infringement" for listing unauthorized copies of Perfect 10's images.

True. The court did rule that -- but what Zada doesn't say is that the ruling came in a case in which the Court ruled against Zada's main claims against Google.

In May, in a case very similar to that Zada now brings against Microsoft, the 9th Circuit wrote: "We conclude that Perfect 10 is unlikely to be able to overcome Google's fair use defense and, accordingly, we vacate the preliminary injunction regarding Google's use of thumbnail images."

Going after MS when you've already lost to Google -- come on, Zada, that's just tasteless.

By Salon Staff

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