Thumbnails protected by fair use

A much debated topic in many newsrooms is whether posting a thumbnail of an image found on the internet is copyright violation. Attorney AJ Thomas pointed out at the 2007 NABJ convention in Las Vegas that a court determined in the case Perfect 10 v. Google, Inc. that Google Images does not violate copyright laws by indexing images found on the net. The thumbnails images are protected under fair use.

How big is too big when it comes to thumbnails? There is no court-supported answer, but Google’s thumbnails are generally no larger than 150 pixels wide. If you decide to go ahead and thumbnail someone else’s image, a safe bet is to keep it small and provide a link to the original image, Thomas said.