LOS ANGELES—Performance commerce network XPays filed a copyright infringing lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles Friday against 843 anonymous John Does it says have illegally downloaded One Night in Paris, the infamous and wildly successful celebrity sex tape starring Paris Hilton that first surfaced in 2004.
TMZ broke the story early Monday morning, and in its opening paragraph explained why the news is likely to generate more publicity and public interest than any of the other John Doe lawsuits that have been filed in recent months on behalf of adult studios.
“It's been 7 years since the Paris Hilton sex tape surfaced on the internet,” reported TMZ, “but it's still popular as ever—especially on the cyber-porn black market—and the downloaders are now getting their collective asses sued.”
The suit was filed on behalf of XPays by industry attorney Michael Fattorosi, who told AVN he is not yet free to make any public comments on the case, but that he was already being inundated by calls from the media seeking comment.
This is not the first time One Night in Paris has been the source of lawsuits filed to protect the interest of various copyright holders. In 2006, for instance, XPays filed a copyright and trademark lawsuit against CelebrityCash parent ICG Entertainment, MrSkin.com parent SK Intertainment, affiliate program FlashCash, Adult Profit (and its site FreeCelebrityMovieArchive), and billing company Verotel, which was the processor for celebrity site CelebsUnzipped, among others.
In 2005, Rick Solomon, Hilton’s long since ex-boyfriend who appears in and shot the One Night footage, filed suit against LFP Broadcasting LLC, alleging that it did not have permission to ink a deal that would have broadcast the footage via hotel room pay-per-view.
Also in 2005, Red Light Video, still the exclusive owner of the DVD distribution rights to 1 Night in Paris, filed suit against Woodland Hills One Hour Photo, alleging the illegal counterfeit manufacture, sale and distribution of the video.
XPays secured the exclusive online rights to One Night in Paris in 2004 from TrustFundGirls.com, an entity founded by Rick Salomon and his brother, Jim, and began marketing the tape four months before the DVD came out.
At the time, AVN reported, “Salomon said that there are other corporate entities involved in the dissemination of the tape whose affiliations are different from the [XPays] ‘affiliate program’ deal, that have enabled the video to be disseminated from 17 jurisdictions on 3 continents—Europe, South America and Asia.” Those deals did not preclude XPays from working with foreign webmasters.
Over the years, One Night in Paris has been a consistent winner in terms of sales, reportedly earning the Salomons upwards of $10 million in the year it was released. TMZ reported, “We're told Paris quietly cashed in on the ‘motion picture’ but is in the background.” In fact, Hilton did sign off on One Night, but her share of proceeds derived from the sale and rental of the movie over the years has never been publicly disclosed.
Another Paris Hilton title, Hotel Heiress: The Paris Hilton Sex Video, which was culled from substantially the same footage as One Night in Paris, was subsequently released, as was another 60 minute version titled The Paris Hilton Sex Video. XPays entered into distribution partnerships with both AEBN and Gamelink in 2010 in order to make the famed sex video available to viewers on VoD platforms as well as mobile devices such as iPhones, iPads and the iPod touch.
In a 2007 interview with AVN for an Executive Suite profile, XPays Evan said, “The Hilton video was years in the making, really, because it’s all about networking. By attending shows and networking, we positioned ourselves for a home-run deal. I got a phone call in the middle of the night from D-Money, who was on the phone with the rights holders, Jim and Rick Salomon. They felt very comfortable with us; they liked that our affiliate program was modular, and liked that they would be featured content at XPays. The tapes found us; we weren’t looking for them."
The XPays complaint can be read here.