Google's image search feature, which displays small thumbnail versions of images found on other Web sites, likely violate U.S. copyright law, according to a federal judge. U.S. District Judge A. Howard Matz ruled Friday that Perfect 10, an adult-oriented Web site featuring "beautiful natural women" in the nude, has shown that Google image search probably infringes copyright law "by creating and displaying thumbnail copies of its photographs." The Los Angeles judge said he would award Perfect 10 a preliminary injunction against Google, and gave lawyers for both sides until March 8 to propose the injunction's wording.
Google said on Tuesday that it plans to appeal the injunction, and predicted it will have no effect on the "vast majority" of its image searches. Perfect 10 sued Google for copyright infringement in November 2004, and then in August 2005, asked for an injunction to halt Google from allegedly copying, displaying, and distributing more than 3,000 Perfect 10 photos. Google did win, however, on one key point. Matz said that the "framing" feature of the company's image search, which displays a thumbnail of the image above a rendering of the original page, did not directly infringe Perfect 10's copyright.