Nudie Mag's Lawsuit Could Have Far-Reaching Impact On Tumblr, Pinterest

I’ve heard a rumor that there are a number of Tumblr pages that may feature nudity. Furthermore, some of these pages contain nude images to which someone else holds the copyright. One such copyright holder has filed a lawsuit against Tumblr which, if successful, could impact a lot more than just pictures of boobs, buns and bits.

PaidContent.org reports that Perfect 10 magazine has sued Tumblr over copyright infringement, claiming the company willfully ignores “the widespread and uncontrolled copyright infringement pervading its website.”

The suit, filed last week in a U.S. District Court in New York, claims that between September and December of 2011, Perfect 10 sent six DMCA notices to Tumblr regarding over 200 images the magazine says it holds the copyrights for. In fact, alleges the complaint, some of the pictures still had the Perfect 10 copyright watermark on them.

The plaintiff says that Tumblr “failed to completely process any of Perfect 10’s DMCA notices, taking down at most only a handful.”

Up until this point, while users of social media sites could be targeted for legal action, the actual operators of sites like Tumblr and Pinterest have been shielded by so-called “safe harbor” laws that put a degree of separation between the behavior of an online community member from the owner of that community.

But Perfect 10 aims to shatter Tumblr’s shield by arguing that its operators are not doing their part when notified of offending material.

From the complaint:

While Tumblr’s current Community Guidelines state that it is Tumblr’s “policy to respond to notices of alleged copyright infringement as per our Terms of Service…” in reality, Tumblr turns a blind eye to the extensive copyright infringement taking place through its services.

Perfect 10 previously tried to sue Google over the thumbnails used in its image search function. But the court sided with the search engine, claiming the thumbnails were covered as a fair use.

However, the magazine might have more of a case with the Tumblr lawsuit, as many of the images are significantly larger than full size. And unlike Google image searches, which link back to the source, most Tumblr pics do not.

Many Tumblr pages rely on using copyrighted photos for their content. The same goes with Pinterest and a number of other social sites. If Perfect 10 were to come out victorious in the lawsuit, it could have several outcomes.

Obviously, it could mean the end to Tumblr and Pinterest, as these sites struggle to keep up with DMCA requests. Users may flee rather than constantly have to see their pages flagged, even if the content belongs to them.

It’s not out of the realm of possibility that we could see some sort of image-skimming bots similar to what’s used by the music industry on YouTube. Of course, this would likely result in the same sort of shoot-first behavior shown in that example.

We’ll be keeping an eye on this suit, and start preparing to replace all the photos in our Barry Manilow Tumblr page with restaged photos of me in a blonde wig.