News

Justices Turn Down Online Piracy Case

The Supreme Court on Monday refused to consider an appeal by an online publisher that claims credit-card companies are enabling the piracy of its pictures of nude models.

The case was brought by Perfect 10 Inc., which until recently published an adult magazine and also operates Perfect10.com. The company said in court papers that its business has been severely harmed by pirate Web sites, many of them overseas, which have used images of its nude models without authorization.

The company has responded to the piracy by suing several intermediary companies it says enable the pirate sites, including Google Inc., Amazon.com Inc., Mastercard Inc. and the Visa International Service Association. The lawsuit against Visa and Mastercard was dismissed by a district court, while the company's suit against Google and Amazon remains in litigation.

In the case rejected by the justices, Perfect 10 accused two related companies, CCBill LLC and CWIE, of enabling copyright infringement and violating California trademark law and other state laws by providing online credit card billing and Web site hosting services to the pirate sites.

The dispute raised several important questions about when credit-card and online companies can be held liable for copyright infringement by their customers, but most of those issues were resolved by a lower court earlier this year.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in San Francisco, ruled that the companies were shielded from liaibility under two of the federal laws governing online communications, the Digital Millenium Copyright Act and the Communications Decency Act.

The justices' decision lets the appeals court's ruling stand.

The case is Perfect 10 Inc. v. CCBill LLC, 07-266.