Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

New York Times
Growing 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. ;-)


don't tempt them.

(he says as he runs off to stake out darn! darn!! ding! woo! i'm gonna be rich!)

fair use thumbnails! that is the coolest concept that I've heard all month. the fair use of text as an academic is pretty well established, and for me that carries over to my blogging and what I tell my students. But I've wondered what the visual equivalent might be. I did a quick google search (ironic) and found 172 uses of the phrase. Where did you first come across it?

[sorry, I had to strip out the half my comment cause the commenting software here rejected my post "Your comment was denied for questionable content."]

A potentially great issue, I think, in terms of copyright, is Goolge's cache. You, the copyright holder, publish something on the Web and Google indexes it. Later, you decide to take this work "out of print" - remove it from circulation - by taking it off the Web. Google's cache retains the work and displays it for public use. This effectively wrests control of the work from your hands.

Neither this issue, nor the others concerning copyright, would have much bearing if it could be established that Google and other search engines are really a type of electronic library. And isn't a library the closest analogy?

If search engines don't have the right to index and display images, it's hard to see how they could have the right to do the same with written documents. And if they don't have that right either, then we don't have a Web.

I have filed a lawsuit aginst Google (06-319, D. DEl.)
becuase Google illegally barred my ads. I believe that the internet is a public forum, therefore, Google cannot discrminat against those seeking to exercise their First Amendment rights. Google also fraudulently ranked my websites, and

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I was reading Joi Ito's Web: Google lawsuits guiding the way and stop at the phrase "Fair Use Thumbnails" to describe the use of small images to refer to an image that might be copyrighted, just as you'd use a... Read More