Porn Publisher Sues Tumblr Over Photo Use

If you're a user of the social micro-blogging service, you'll be more than well aware of the presence of near-incessantly uploaded and reblogged pornographic imagery.  That is until now, however, as Perfect 10, a pornography publisher has launched a lawsuit against the platform for ingringing on its copyrighted material.

The complaint was filed by Perfect 10 on May 4th, and makes allegations that Tumblr failed to remove more than 200 copyrighted photos (some with the watermarks of the company in the bottom corner), ignoring six takedown requests sent under the legislation of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act.

What's more concerning about this, however, is the overall effect this case could have on the future of photo sharing sites such as this, Pinterest or Twitpic.  If the case is won by Perfect 10, you could imagine a much grander landslide of copyright infringement lawsuits across all these platforms and many different forms and images we use (eg. memes, gifs, anything with imagery that belongs to a larger company).

Perfect 10 have tried this before, suing Google in 2006 over their use of thumbnail images in their search, claiming they weren't subject to fair use.  But (quite rightly in my opinion), the US Supreme Court would not hear the case due to the images being judged as used fairly by the search engine.  Now, however, the case is strong in the pornography publisher's favour.

Tumblr's terms of use forbid the use of copyrighted images on users' blogs, claiming that the company may "immediately terminate or suspend" accounts that are flagged repeatedly for copyright infringement.  But this has not been the case for these images (displayed at full resolution, not at the thumbnail size that granted Google fair use rights) owned by Perfect 10.  And beyond this, the blogging site has not done itself any favours by ignoring the takedown requests.

Tumblr has failed to completely process any of Perfect 10's [take-down] notices, taking down at most only a handful of the over 200 infringing images.

Tumblr are yet to make a response to the claims Perfect 10 has made; but if this is won, don't expect to find porn on your dashboard, or any copyrighted material for that matter.

Court filing:

Perfect 10 v Tumblr