Back in court for something else now, Google has been hearing the ruling of a federal judge that portions of its popular image search feature, which displays small thumbnail versions of images found on other websites, may constitute violations of copyright law.

US District Judge A Howard Matz ruled on Friday that Perfect 10, an adult-oriented website featuring "beautiful natural women" in the nude, has shown that Google image search probably infringes copyright law "by creating and displaying thumbnail copies of its photographs".

The Los Angeles judge said he would award Perfect 10 a preliminary injunction against Google, and gave lawyers for both sides until 8 March to propose the injunction's wording.

Perfect 10 sued Google for copyright infringement in the later months of 2004, and asked for an injunction to halt Google from allegedly displaying more than 3,000 Perfect 10 photos. Google plans to appeal the injunction, which it predicts will have no effect on the majority of internet searches.