Internet Law

Website's snarky use of exec's photo leads to infringement suit against Google

When a satirical website posted Ann Dieleman’s corporate photo, along with snarky remarks about her appearance, she decided to take action.

Dieleman, who is chief marketing officer for legal insurance provider ARAG North America, sued Google on Dec. 31 after it refused a request to remove the photo from the Sexy Executives blog, which is hosted by Google’s blogging service. Dielman and ARAG are both plaintiffs, report MediaPost, ABC News and the Des Moines Register.

The suit was filed in federal court in Des Moines.

Intellectual property lawyer Leigh Ann Lindquist told ABC that Google likely turned down the takedown request because it determined the website had fair-use rights to the photo.

Internet legal expert Venkat Balasubramani also recognized the fair-use argument, and said it may be strong in this case.

“The use is not commercial and certainly not directly competitive, doesn’t affect the market for licensing the particular photos, and while offbeat, the use is certainly a form of commentary,” Balasubramani told MediaPost in an email.

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