Unlike the other cases I will discuss in my paper, MGM v. Grokster actually appears to contradict my thesis. Grokster distributed free software products that allowed computer users to share electronic files through peer-to-peer networks. MGM sued Grokster for their users' copyright infringements. They claimed that Grokster knowingly and intentionally distributed their software to enable their users to reproduce and distribute their copyrighted works. The Supreme Court decided in favor of MGM, which would seem to be bad for Google.
While both and Grokster and Google seem similar, in fact, their differences, in the eyes of the Court are actually very important. Both involve a type of peer-to-peer file sharing which may or may not involve items that are copyrighted. MGM showed that Grokster's services contained more than 90% copyrighted material. In fact, this information did not surface until the case was brought to the Supreme Court. Without this information, the Appellate Court decided in favor of Grokster with the main reason being that they distributed non-copyrighted material. While I have no proof that most of Google's images are in fact not copyrighted, it is Perfect 10's job to bring that information forward. Since they have not, one can only assume that Google's image search contains mostly Fair Use images.
Another reason why Google differs greatly from Grokster is the purpose behind their service. Grokster, following the Napster case, had an advertising campaign targeting the users who were looking for an alternative to Napster. This means that they were targeting people who had been illegally downloading on Napster. Hence, their main source of revenue is from the file sharing of copyrighted works. Google, on the other hand, has shown no evidence of focusing on copyrighted works. Their technology is set up like Grokster in that they do not always know what links are being shared, but their main focus is greatly different. It is the difference in philosophies and the users' use of the services that shows that Grokster is not a good comparison with Google.
The Hotaling v. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints case is important because it helps distinguish Google's use of thumbnails with cases that are actually not Fair Use. In this case, Hotaling, a group of researchers, compiled and copyrighted a number of genealogical research materials. At some point, the Church of Latter-Day Saints received one legitimate copy of the microfiche and added it to its main library's collection in Salt Lake City, Utah. Later, they made microfiche copies of the works without the Hotalings' permission and sent the copies to several of its branch libraries. There were many extenuating circumstances, but even with them the appellate court decided that this was copyright infringement.
This is especially relevant because Perfect 10 attempted to cite this case as part of their argument. "Perfect 10 incorrectly relies on Hotaling v. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and Napster for the proposition that merely making images "available" violates the copyright owner's distribution right."(Perfect 10 v. Google) The Hotaling case differs significantly from the Google case. Hotaling made exact copies and distributed them to places that would otherwise have had to buy the copies. The infringement in this case was much more direct and obvious than what Perfect 10 accuses Google of doing with their thumbnails.
Regardless, this case demonstrates an important difference between Google and the average Fair Use case. Google is not distributing copies; they are creating thumbnails from other sites. Google is not creating these images entirely, nor are they distributing the images. Since merely making images "available" has been shown to not be enough for copyright infringement in the Hotaling case, we can carry that over to the Google case. This completely nullifies one of Perfect 10's arguments, even according to the Court, than this case is very essential to supporting my thesis. It both supports my thesis by both contrasting Google with the Hotaling case and establishing a precedent which takes away one of the opposing viewpoint's arguments.
This is the case and decision handed down by the United States District Court that is amending the decision of the Central District Court of California. My paper will focus on this decision and the reasoning behind its decision. First, it summarizes the case, which is that Perfect 10, Inc. sued Google, Inc. for infringing their copyrighted photographs of nude models among other claims. The district court originally prohibited Google from creating and publicly displaying thumbnail versions of Perfect 10's images. They did, however, allow Google to link to third party websites that display infringing full-size versions of Perfect 10's images. Both Perfect 10 and Google appealed the decision.
The decision also discusses the background of the situation including the use of the internet, HTMLs, search engines, and specifically how "Google Image Search" works. Generally, Google uses HTML instructions to access other websites and, through a third-party website, shrink their pictures or graphics down into thumbnails. These thumbnails are displayed in "Google Image Search" and linked to image where it is stored on the website publisher's computer. It also discusses the background information of the previous interaction between Perfect 10 and Google. This included notifications sent from Perfect 10 and Google, and the time of the filing of the suit.
This case also discusses the "Standard of Review" involved in the decision. This includes the aspects of Copyright law that are involved and how they apply to this situation. It also discusses how Perfect 10 accuses Google of Direct Infringement, its specific requirements, Perfect 10's argument for it, and Google's defense (Fair Use). It discusses how Google is not secondarily liable for copyright infringement as well as Amazon.com's involvement and their innocence according to the same reasoning. Finally, they conclude that since Perfect 10 is unlikely to overcome Google's Fair Use defense, the district court's decision is reversed and Google is innocent for both the direct and secondary infringement charges.