Perfect 10, Inc., a publisher of tasteful model and supermodel images, has filed an action against Microsoft for copyright infringement, relating to Microsoft's operation of its MSN search engine, after attempts at settlement failed. Perfect 10 is currently in litigation against Google and Amazon for similar claims.
This case is viewed by Perfect 10 as a continuation of its overall campaign against Internet piracy. According to Perfect 10, major U.S. corporations like Microsoft and Google are linking to and displaying billions of dollars of copyrighted images without permission, to promote their own businesses.
"Microsoft is showing tens of thousands of extremely valuable celebrity images, along with Perfect 10 images, without authorization, which it obtains from hundreds if not thousands of pirate websites," says Norm Zada, a former Stanford professor and president of Perfect 10. "They are also showing extremely explicit sexual images to viewers of any age," says Zada. "Search engines could greatly reduce infringement if they would simply delist obvious infringers upon receiving notice, and stop copying and linking to copyrighted works without permission," says Zada, "but that would adversely affect their revenue."
Recently, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that Google could be contributorily liable for copyright infringement if it was aware of infringing Perfect 10 images available using its search engine, could take simple measures to prevent further damage to Perfect 10's copyrighted works, and failed to take such steps.
According to Zada, MSN has an image search feature, which like that of Google, makes unauthorized thumbnails of thousands of Perfect 10 images and provides a “See full-size image” link which allows MSN users to see full-size Perfect 10 images for free. Perfect 10’s complaint also alleges that MSN is making available passwords to perfect10.com. “Microsoft has complained about entities that distribute unauthorized Microsoft software product codes on the one hand, while Microsoft makes our confidential passwords available to millions of online users,” says Zada. “There is something very wrong about this.”
Zada further claims that Microsoft is continuing to link to, and take advertising from, websites that have stolen virtually every major film, sound recording, image, and even computer software, and which sell literally billions of dollars of pirated works for as little as $20 a month. “In the end, I firmly believe that those who knowingly profit from the theft of billions of dollars of other people’s property will lose,” says Zada.