The US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of Google in a suit brought by Perfect10, who offers internet pictures of women who have forgotten some or all of their clothes. The images are copyrighted, but the Google search engine displays thumbnail images in search results. And people using the search engine to view the clothing-challenged young ladies rubbed Perfect10 the wrong way.
The court focused on the legal question of which party holds the burden of proving whether Google's use of Perfect 10's images constituted a "fair use" under copyright law. Fair use is a defense that allows the use of copyrighted works, under certain circumstances, without the owner's consent.
The appeals court initially said Perfect 10 had the burden of proving that Google couldn't make its case. It corrected itself Monday, saying it was up to Google to articulate its defense, even in a case such as this one, which dealt with whether the courts could issue a preliminary injunction.
Nevertheless, the court said, Google met that test. The justices ruled that a larger public interest in searching for information -- or, in this case, images of partially clad women -- amounted to a "transformative use" that trumped Perfect 10's copyright claims.
Someday, kids, you'll have a girlfriend whose last name isn't jpeg. Until then, Google will always be there for you.