After 8 years the legal battle between Google and adult magazine publisher Perfect 10 has been put to rest. The latter accused the search giant of a variety of copyright infringement breaches which included Google’s use of cached images. In a final attempt to save the case, Perfect 10 offered a $25,000 bounty to anyone who could prove wrongdoing on Google’s part but the initiative failed. The case has now been dismissed without the option for further appeal.
In 2004 Google was sued by Perfect 10. The adult publisher demanded a permanent injunction against Google to prevent it from copying and distributing thumbnails of its images, and to stop the search engine from linking to websites where Perfect 10 content was hosted illegally. Initially Perfect 10 scored a substantial victory as the court agreed with the adult company’s position on Google’s use of thumbnails. However, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals later reversed this ruling stating that this utilization of thumbnails amounted to fair use. What followed was a lengthy legal battle in which the adult company targeted Google with a wide range of secondary liability claims. These claims were often supported by the MPAA and RIAA, and opposed by digital rights groups such as the EFF. After nearly 8 years of litigation and two failed requests for a Supreme Court review, the case continued at the District Court where both sides accused each other of breaking the rules. Notable is Perfect 10′s quite unconventional last-minute attempt to find more dirt on Google. Earlier this year the company called on the publicto provide evidence that Google was aiding or abetting copyright infringements. The publisher went as far as offering a $25,000 bounty, which is still listed on its website.
“Perfect 10 is offering $25,000 (twenty-five thousand dollars) to the person who provides us with the most compelling non-public evidence of Google illegal conduct between now and February 28, 2012.”
“The type of evidence we are looking for would be emails between a webmaster and Google, showing that Google aided or condoned copyright infringement, or that Google was involved in other illegal activities not known to the general public.”
However, judging from the recent court updates this offer didn’t bring in the much-desired evidence. Both parties agreed to dismiss the case with prejudice, meaning it can no longer be appealed. “Perfect 10 agrees not to commence any future lawsuit against Google in any court arising from any such Google act or omission on or before the date of dismissal of this action, or any such DMCA notices sent by Perfect 10 on or before the date of dismissal of this action,” the court filing reads. Whether the dismissal follows on an out-of-court settlement is unknown. A Google spokesperson didn’t answer this specific question, instead offering the following comment. “We always asserted that there was no merit to this case. Plaintiff seemed to agree: last week he asked for a dismissal of the case with prejudice.” Another plausible reason for the dismissal could be that Perfect 10 was feeling the heat, as the court ordered the company to open its books and provide full insight into all internal communications regarding the court case. While the dismissal marks the end of a landmark case, Perfect 10 shows no sign of slowing down their legal actions. The company has a long history of copyright cases targeting companies such as Megaupload, Amazon, and Hotfile. Last month Russia’s Google equivalent Yandex joined these ranks, and earlier this week Perfect 10 sued the microblogging platform Tumblr. And so it continues.