In Perfect 10 v. Amazon (2007), the US Supreme Court said Google’s use of thumbnail images by Perfect 10 was fair use.
That being said, here’s the facts of Perfect 10 v. Amazon. Google, Defendant, claimed it’s use of Perfect 10’s thumbnails (Plaintiff) was fair use. By the way, Perfect 10, an adult entertainment magazine, had a website that offered subscriptions to users for photographs of their models.
Perfect 10 presented this issue to the Supreme Court: First, does Google violate the copyright owner’s exclusive right to display the image with their thumbnails? Second, does the in-line links violate the distribution right of the copyright owner? Third, do thumbnails constitute fair use under the copyright law?
In the holding, the US Supreme Court said, “Use of thumbnails in image search engine is fair use; Central District of California reversed.”
Lastly, as in all internet cases, this case dealt with the complexities of copyright on the internet. That being said, Goolge did not directly infringe Perfect 10’s copyright, but secondary infringement was another battle for another day. The Grokster case would get into the secondary liability of copyright on the internet.