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Supreme Court Rejects Case Over Pirated Nude Pictures

Perfect 10 argued that its online adult magazine business had been hurt by foreign sites that pirated pictures of nude models.
The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear a copyright case that sought to hold companies responsible for supporting sites that profit from piracy.

Monday's refusal (PDF) upholds a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling. The lower court ruled that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and the Communications Decency Act let credit card and Internet companies off the hook for pirated content on Web sites they support.

In the Supreme Court case, Perfect 10 Inc. v. CCBill LLC, Perfect 10 argued that its online adult magazine business had been hurt by foreign sites that pirated pictures of nude models.

Perfect 10 targeted financial institutions, search engines, and online sales sites, and later online billing companies for what they claim is supporting piracy.

The argument, which centers on who is responsible for content and business on the Internet, has played out on several fronts.

The Utah legislature backed off a provision in a child Internet safety bill that would have held Internet service providers responsible for distributing harmful content by supporting Web sites that provide adult content without taking sufficient steps to prevent children from viewing the material.

However, lawmakers continue to target ISPs and hosting companies saying they should be accountable for knowingly receiving money for content that the state deems harmful.

And, a separate federal law, which effectively bans online gambling in the United States, holds financial institutions responsible for processing gambling payments.

A lawsuit Viacom filed against Google in U.S. District Court in Manhattan argues that safe harbor provisions in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act do not relieve Google of responsibility for content its users post on YouTube.

Finally, experts have said that the same safe harbor provision relieves colleges and universities of liability for copyright infringement on campus networks, as long as administrators cooperate with efforts to prevent copyright infringement.