CYBERSPACE—Perfect 10 has a new target in its determined multi-year campaign to keep the fruit of owner Norm Zada’s labor from being copied and redistributed on the internet without permission or payment. Over the years the company, which has built a large catalogue of high-end photography featuring some of the most beautiful women in the world, has lashed out at just about everyone in the digital food chain it believes has benefited from the infringement of its copyrights—including Amazon, Google, Visa/MasterCard, Rapidshare, Microsoft and CCBill—with little to show for it.
Thursday, the company filed a multimillion-dollar copyright infringement lawsuit against leading Usenet service provider Giganews—whose newsfeed began its fledgling existence in 1994, and today is reportedly used by tens of millions of people around the globe—and Livewire Services, which the complaint says owns and operates sites including RhinoNewsGroups.com, FastUsenet.com and UsenetGiant.com, among others, that allegedly act as a reseller of infringed content contained on Giganet servers located in Austin, Texas.
The complaint also names Ronald Yokubaitis, who is said to be the chairman of Giganews as well as the “Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) agent for giganews.com, nupernews.com, and all of the infringing Livewire websites identified above,” as well as 1-100 John Does. The complaint further alleges that all or most of the Giganews and Livewire websites it has identified as contained infringed material are hosted on Austin-based servers at a company called Data Foundry, which is reportedly controlled and/or operated by Yokoubaitis. In fact, the complaint says that the Austin address listed on Livewire’s DMCA filing with the U.S. Copyright Office is the same for both Data Foundry and Giganews.
The 19-page complaint, filed April 28 in federal court in San Diego by Perfect 10 attorney Eric J. Benink, claims that the defendants have “in total, copied, distributed, displayed, and sold, more than 165,000 Perfect 10 copyright images—roughly 15,000 Perfect 10 copyrighted images per website.”
On March 25, 2009, it further states, Perfect 10 “sent to Giganews approximately 800 Perfect 10 copyrighted images, a number of which displayed Perfect 10 copyright notices. Perfect 10 notified Giganews that Giganews was infringing a vast collection of third party copyrighted works, Perfect 10 rights of publicity, and Perfect 10 copyrighted works. Giganews wrote back claiming that it could not find the allegedly infringing images based on that notice, which was simply not correct. Giganews could have found each and everyone one of those images by using its own search function to search for the image identifiers provided with Perfect 10’s notice. Once it found an infringing Perfect 10 image in a particular group of such images (called an ‘article’), it could have blocked other Perfect 10 images displaying Perfect 10 copyright notices in that same group, but failed to do so. Six months later, Giganews was still selling access to many thousands of Perfect 10 copyrighted images that display Perfect 10 copyrighted notices.”
In August 2010, the complaint continues, another notice was sent to Giganews by Perfect 10, this time containing examples of television episodes of television series such as American Idol and Big Bang Theory. “Perfect 10 explained to Giganews that such materials were obviously infringing and that Perfect 10 could not compete with entities like Giganews, which steal and sell massive quantities of obviously copyrighted works, in competition against Perfect 10, who pays for materials it sells. Nevertheless, Giganews has continued to store, copy, distribute, and sell access to massive quantities of similar infringing materials.”
Perfect 10 is seeking actual, punitive and statutory damages in the range of $25 million, plus attorneys’ fees and costs.
The Perfect 10 complaint can be accessed here.