A Des Moines, Iowa, insurance company is suing Google, demanding it remove a copyrighted photo from a private blog that mocks corporate headshots.
ARAG North America and Ann Dieleman, a senior vice president and chief marketing officer for the insurance company, filed the copyright lawsuit on Dec. 31 in federal court, The Des Moines Register reported.
ARAG, which specializes in products and services for protection against legal issues, said Google has denied its requests to remove the photo, which was posted on SexyExecs.blogspot.com in 2009. The author of the private blog is not known, but the blog is hosted through Blogger, a company owned by Google.
Matt Kallman, a Google spokesman, said in an email that the company is not commenting on the lawsuit.
Brett Trout, the attorney who formally filed the lawsuit, sent a letter to Google in September 2012 that accused the company of copyright infringement. Google declined to remove the photo and requested proof that ARAG held the copyright to the photo. Google later declined a second request after ARAG said it owned the photo.
“As always, we encourage you to resolve any disputes directly with the blogger in question,” Google said in an email to Trout.
The newspaper reported that Dieleman’s photo and link to the mock blog are a top result when using Google to search her name.
“We’ve followed the appropriate procedures to remove the content. However, after continued back and forth it was time to assert my legal rights,” she said.
Experts say the case highlights a growing clash with bloggers who post images online without permission.
“Bloggers think they can take a picture on the Internet and give credit to whoever and that will save them from liability, but that is really not true,” said Shontavia Johnson, an associate professor who teaches intellectual property at Drake University Law School.
Google’s self-published transparency report says it received nearly 25 million take-down requests last month for copyright violations.