Using Thumbnails of Copyrighted Images is Fair Use

Fair use describes conditions under which copyrighted material may be used without permission. If a work is not copyrighted, it’s in the public domain and fair use does not come into play, since public-domain works can legally be used for any purpose.

December 04, 2007

google-adult-images Adult magazine Perfect 10 earlier filed a copyright infringement claim against Google alleging that Google was crawling the Perfect10.com website and created thumbnails of copyrighted images that were later displayed in Google Image search results.

Google did store the thumbnails but argued that image thumbnails were protected under the copyright doctrine of fair use.

Now a court has also said that using thumbnail-sized images of pictures does not constitute infringement, even when the images are copyrighted.

This seems a fairly logical conclusion but how small can a a thumbnail image be to be considered as fair use?

The definition says that thumbnail images have a length of around 80 to 200 pixels – if small web publishers resize commercial pictures to that size, will it be regarded as “fair use”?

Related: Pictures Thumbnails in Google