Friday, 24 February 2006

Thumbnail-graphics lawsuit

The BBC News website's title for this story - Google rapped over adult photos - must go down as one of the most misleading and titillating headlines ever. I expect this type of headline from the gutter press, not from the BBC. If you read the story, about a lawsuit brought against Google by a magazine selling "adult" photos, you'll find that 1) the magazine is complaining that Google's graphics search engine shows thumbnails which guide surfers to websites which infringe its copyright, 2) the judge in the case took a sympathetic view of Google's defence and gave both parties time to sort out their differences, and 3) neither the magazine that brought the lawsuit (Perfect 10) nor the BBC reporter seems to have a clue as to how search engines work.
To these three points one can add that any firm which attempts to stifle its own potential for worldwide publicity afforded by a search engine is trying to shoot itself in the foot! Of course, if it can gain even more publicity by suing a firm that runs a search engine...
I prefer AltaVista (© Overture Services Inc) to Google for graphics searches. The reason is a difference which might also explain why Perfect 10 is suing Google rather than AltaVista. When you click on an AltaVista thumbnail it sends you directly to the host webpage. The Google search engine superimposes the Google logo and the target thumbnail above the host webpage and invites you to click the thumbnail for the larger image. I don't want this, because I want to read any information about the graphic I'm searching for: generally a painting or sculpture with the name of the artist and the date of the work.
Anyway, I don't think we need worry about thumbnail graphics vanishing from our favourite search engine, whichever it is.


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