0

I read all the Wikipedia pages related to this, especially Copyright aspects of hyperlinking and framing, where it says the seemingly completely ridiculous statement from the Ninth Circuit court (I am an experienced software developer BTW):

Google does not have a copy of the images for purposes of the Copyright Act. In other words, Google does not have any "material objects … in which a work is fixed … and from which the work can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated" and thus cannot communicate a copy. Instead of communicating a copy of the image, Google provides HTML instructions that direct a user's browser to a Web site publisher's computer that stores the full-size photographic image. Providing these HTML instructions is not equivalent to showing a copy. First, the HTML instructions are lines of text, not a photographic image. Second, HTML instructions do not themselves cause infringing images to appear on the user's computer screen. The HTML merely gives the address of the image to the user's browser. The browser then interacts with the computer that stores the infringing image. It is this interaction that causes an infringing image to appear on the user's computer screen.

Are they serious? So I (the search engine) write code which is strings of UTF-8 characters, dynamically generated from my server, sending the user a bunch of text as HTML. There I'm done with my work. I didn't copyright infringe anything. No, the browser then takes the strings of text which I sent, and interprets it on the user's behalf. The graphics engine then takes the series of computer instructions on transistors and converts it into pixels, which the user sees with their eyes. The light coming from the computer screen is the real culprit, so it is the monitor company which should be sued, not the one generating the HTML strings.

Then the argument of actually storing the image on Google's computer...

enter image description here

Notice this image:

enter image description here

It is a base64 encoded string:

<img
  src="data:image/jpeg;base64,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" 
  data-deferred="1" 
  class="rg_i Q4LuWd" 
  jsname="Q4LuWd" 
  width="126" 
  height="240" 
  alt="Liam Neeson - IMDb" 
  data-iml="1050.6000000238419" 
  data-atf="true"
>

To me this means they have transformed their work (from whatever JPEG native format) into a base64 encoded string, and stored their work on their servers in derived format. There is no way they are dynamically fetching the original images for each of these images from the original site, base64 encoding them, and returning them to the end user that fast. They have to either be storing them locally, or caching them like in Memcached, which is also a form of local storage.

Notice, too, the link of the image:

https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=https%3A%2F%2Fm.media-amazon.com%2Fimages%2FM%2FMV5BMjA1MTQ3NzU1MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDE3Mjg0MzE%40._V1_UY1200_CR286%2C0%2C630%2C1200_AL_.jpg&imgrefurl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.imdb.com%2Fname%2Fnm0000553%2F&tbnid=2-mCvxvX55ikGM&vet=12ahUKEwjvxOPK-rDyAhUQTlMKHRV_AXoQMygBegUIARDMAQ..i&docid=jw8_6rV2DPsIaM&w=630&h=1200&q=liam%20neeson&ved=2ahUKEwjvxOPK-rDyAhUQTlMKHRV_AXoQMygBegUIARDMAQ

It is a Google link, not a link to the original site. The court cases say they must link to the original site, but clearly here they are not. What is the deal? Granted, the original URL is in that URL, but it's not the actual URL to the original image.

I like the idea of being able to surface images in a search engine, but what they are doing doesn't seem legally sound. Why can't I just create a site and show copyrighted images, and call it a "niche" search site?

2

You might follow the Wikipedia links to the full holding. They did recognize that Google caches images, particularly thumbnails of images. Do a Find on "cache". From the 9th Circuit Holding -

That local browser caching is fair use is supported by a recent decision holding that Google's own cache constitutes fair use.

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