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It's once again easy to consume porn online after a US court ruled in favor of search juggernaut Google's right to display tiny pictures of naked people.

A San Francisco appeals court has reversed a lower court's preliminary injunction that barred Google from displaying thumbnail-size pornographic images from the Perfect 10 site. Google might, though, be liable for allowing links to sites that display pirated copies of the images.

The lower court had found Google guilty of violating Perfect 10's copyright on images, but said it was probably not responsible for displays of the underlying images from the porn merchant's site.

Importantly for search engines everywhere, Judge Sandra Ikuta ruled Perfect 10 was unlikely to be able to overcome Google's "fair use" defense in use of the images. A loss could have opened the door to other, similar cases against Google and fellow search engines.

Perfect 10, a magazine and web publisher, objected to Google returning thumbnails of its images of nude women without its permission in 2001. Perfect 10 typically charges, er, clients a monthly fee for access to its site. Perfect 10 has filed similar claims against Amazon.com and its A9.com operation. ®

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