Google has lost a court case over publishing copyrighted images owned by an adult website Perfect 10.

A California court has ruled that “Google's creation and public display of 'thumbnails' do directly infringe P10's copyrights” and that the judge will grant a preliminary injunction on this aspect of the case on 8th March.

The Court also concluded that the adult website's claim that

The problems started when P10 felt Google and Amazon's A9 image search engines displaying “thumbnail” copies of P10's copyrighted images without permission.

If upheld, the judge's preliminary ruling could mean that search engines like Google will have to drop its image search facility in fear of follow-on court cases.

Google has tiptoed the line separating the "fair use" of copyrighted material and copyright infringement in recent months.

In an attempt to strengthen the case further, several months after it sued Google, Perfect 10 started selling small, low-quality photographs — similar to ones found on Google — for display on mobile phones.

The images that had been considered a "fair use" became a replacement for the product Perfect 10 was selling.

"There's no reason for anyone to purchase those images from us when they can get them from Google for free", Perfect 10 lawyer Daniel Cooper said.

The case, which is likely to be appealed, has not yet been scheduled for trial.