Picture This: Search Business Model is Screwed!

16 comments

Copyright is probably the single biggest issue for search engines, and U.S. District Court Judge Howard Matz just sent a big blow to the search business model, stating that Google's image thumbnails of stolen content violate copyright:

A federal court judge has concluded that an image search service run by Google Inc. infringes on the copyrights of adult entertainment company Perfect 10 Inc. by displaying small versions of its images in search results.

Matz ordered both sides to craft a narrow preliminary injunction that would respect Perfect 10’s copyrights but not curtail Google’s broader right to catalog and display online images.

If Google showing those images is illegal what would you think a judge would think about AdSense ads on much of the pirated content on the web?

I recently bought a few Google shares and all I can think is that there will likely be a lower entry point for those debating doing the same.

Comments

My reading of it was somewhat different

This was the quote that stuck out for me, presuming that it is correctly reported:

but not curtail Google’s broader right to catalog and display online images.

Well I think the lawsuit can

Well I think the lawsuit can be repeated by others...the floodgates have opened. Now Google needs to create a responsive way to guarantee that they keep copyrighted images out of their database.

What happens when some of these images once again wind up inside Google's database?

Put another way, should Perfect 10 (and other companies) need to spend the resources to sue Google and create a special deal that guarantees their images do not wind up in the database over and over again? Even outside of the lawsuit and this case, how often should people be expected to go to Google to see if their copyright is being violated?

Uhm...

infringes on the copyrights of adult entertainment company Perfect 10 Inc. by displaying small versions of its images in search results.

I think I'll have to see... no, wait, carefully examine, those images -- in both small and large versions of course -- before I can form a qualified opinion.

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Added (I):

I don't really think adsense ads on pirated content is much of an issue as it's the pirates, and not Google, that choose to display said content.

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Added (II):

It just hit me - isn't it so that all images are copyrighted by default, unless otherwise stated?

Or is this another case of different legislation aross the globe?

carefully examine Just a

carefully examine

Just a sec. I will upload a few to the server real quick.

About time...

Why Google cannot just assume no-cache is beyond me (not no-index, just no-cache). It would help them avoid the VAST MAJORITY of these caching law-suits and would impinge upon their search service negligably.

Not about cache

This isn't a cache issue but whether you OPT-IN or OPT-OUT to being crawled in the first place. Google goes way beyond caching here as they not only copy the image which is a clear cut case of copyright violation, but then reduces it to a thumbnail and display it as content for their image search which violates copyright no matter how you slice it.

Many photographers simply don't allow Google to crawl their images which solves the problem, which is all these people needed to do, but Google's everyone OPT-IN by default entitlement attitude to people's websites is starting to burn them in the ass.

I'm actually glad to see this happen and hope it escalates until Google changes their attitude about other people's property and switches to an OPT-IN model for new sites, new content and cached content.

didn't the web flourish on giving?

I dunno about having to opt-in.

robots.txt was developed to exclude, and the underlying presumption was of inclusion. Something about, if you publish to the Web, it's public, isn't it?

If all sites had had to opt-in, there's a slew of material never would've seen daylight, except by the author's mother.

As for copyright, robots.txt and you're done.

But...

Google's everyone OPT-IN by default

Isn't EVERY search engine this way? I'm gonna get crawled unless I specifically say NO, right? I have to specifically say so in a robots.txt file if I don't want to be crawled (and then hope the rogue bots will play along).

Maybe this is where Aaron was headed with the headline about the whole business model being screwed. What happens if this progresses to a point where some judge tells search engines to flip their business model and stop indexing others' content (photos, text, you name it) without expressed permission?

Dare to Dream

What happens if this progresses to a point where some judge tells search engines to flip their business model and stop indexing others' content (photos, text, you name it) without expressed permission?

From a marketers perspective I'd be overjoyed there would be way less competition.

opt-in will never happen.

opt-in will never happen. how enforceable is that? the truth of the matter is that the internet was pretty much designed to allow for the copying and spreading of information. resistance is futile.

Resistance works just fine

Resistabce being futile is an opinion not shared by the scrapers and myriad of bots that got thousands of page requests rejected by my server yesterday. I'm 100% opt-in only at this point and robots.txt is useless except for the small percentage or bots out there that obey it in the first place.

Trust me, cousin Jim Bob's scrape-o-matic doesn't obey!

The only problem with image indexes is if you didn't design your site with all the images in a subdirectory there's nothing in standard robots.txt that will tell the robot to NOT index just your images. Thus it puts the burden 100% on the webmaster to go back and retool the site to make sure every image is located in a directory that can be disallowed.

the best bots will be the

the best bots will be the ones that can most accurately imitate human behavior. so, if you block the best bots, you also block....

Those bots exist already

But they still get snared on challenge pages that humans can figure out

nothing to do with robots.txt

My understanding was that this case had nothing to do with robots.txt and Google scraping Perfect 10s site. What was happening was people were downloading PErfect 10's pictures, and then putting them up on different sites - which were then being crawled by Google. I believe that the judge even said that it is not infringement for Google to cache and display images as long as they appear in the frame above the original context.

.

>robots.txt was developed to exclude, and the underlying presumption was of inclusion.

Copyright is about law, not an assumption nor presumption. A total OPT-IN model for search engines may present it's own problems, but to my knowledge there has been no change to current copyright laws which act under the premise of obtaining permission first, not offering an OPT-OUT mechanism later.

Woz is Wise

I've been harping on this for years as the internet is backwards, robots.txt as well, in that everyone is assumed OPT-IN for everything just because you have a website up when in fact copyright laws claim just the opposite.

Eventually this free-for-all entitlement mentality about content on the internet will boil over and sanity will ultimately prevail.

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