New York TimesGrowing Number of Lawsuits Could Hurt Google's Ad Revenue
PARIS, March 27 -
This month, Mr. Dariot triumphed in his year-and-a-half-old lawsuit against Google's French subsidiary, which has been ordered to pay him $97,000 in fines and legal costs.
Dariot and his travel companies, Luteciel and Viaticum, successfully challenged Google's practice of selling Internet advertising from rivals designed to appear with Web searches for his trademarked Web site name, Bourse des Vols, which means flight exchange.
Mr. Dariot's company is one of the first to win against Google; similar cases in the United States and Germany that challenged the search engine's use of keywords have failed.
But more companies are piling on. France is home to as many as 15 cases, according to lawyers involved.
In a recent California case, Norm Zada, the chief executive and founder of Perfect 10, a publisher of nude photographs and adult material based in Beverly Hills, said he started sending legal notices to Google about the unauthorized use of his images in 2001.
"After 16 notices, they said they couldn't do anything," Mr. Zada said.
Since then, he said, his attorney has issued a blizzard of 44 notices in the past two years that covered 9,000 unauthorized images. In January, he sued Google in United States District Court in Los Angeles.
Google is in an amazing position to be the target of tons of lawsuits that will set precedent for many important things for us on the Internet. I personally like that Google is pushing the envelope on fair use and other issues. For instance, I think Google Images "thumbnails" are no larger than 150x150 pixels. Because of this, I use 150x150 as my own "safe zone" for "fair use thumbnails". If someone sues me, at least I can point at Google. The other thing that Google, Yahoo and others are involved in is transborder lawsuits, which are a very interesting issue from an Internet governance point of view.
Maybe Google should get into the legal advisory business too. ;-)