The Adult Industry Copyright Organization (AICO) reports that Fraserside Holdings and distributor Calvista Australia are expected to claim over $300,000 in damages, interest and costs in the resolution of a long-running video piracy suit against Australian retail chain Venus Adult Stores.
In August 2005, a federal court judge convicted Venus of copyright infringement for manufacturing and selling counterfeit DVD copies of adult titles licensed by Fraserside (part of the Private Group) and distributed by CalVista in Australia.
Venus and its associates appealed that decision and lost in December 2006. The court rejected 10 out of 11 grounds in that decision, awarding only a $10,600 reduction in damages. Following the original judgment, Venus filed a motion to re-open the appeal.
This week, the court rejected that application, ordering that the cost of the motion be paid to Calvista and upholding the original judgment. As a condition of the appeal, the court ordered Venus to provide a $193,000 bank guarantee as collateral – which will now go toward the settlement in the AICO members' favor.
The pirated DVDs included numerous titles from gay adult studio Titan Media. Titan vice-president Keith Webb called the case "a huge win for AICO and the adult industry in America."
"Venus shops was a huge pirate of our products," Webb said in an e-mailed statement. "Three years ago, I walked into one of the Venus stores in Sydney and picked up all our pirated DVDs and walked out with them. I left my business card and a message that said "Stop pirating Titan DVD or we will sue you!" They didn't listen to our warning, and three years later we have won our case and the appeal. We are tenacious in our pursuit of pirates; once we get you in our crosshairs, we will not let go until we win. This case is proof of just that."
AICO is a nonprofit organization dedicated to defending adult producers, manufacturers and distributors against video piracy and copyright infringement. While its efforts are based in Australia, the organization views its anti-piracy program as a global model for the adult industry. Webb recently returned from the AdultEx show in Cairns, Australia, where he witnessed the result of AICO's work firsthand.
"TitanMen is now the largest selling gay adult DVD brand in Australia and New Zealand," said Webb. "We have over 70 films through the AU film classification boards and certified for sale in AU, more than any other gay adult studio. Because of the promotion and marketing from our AU distribution partners, Calvista, and AICO's efforts in anti-piracy, our business in the AU is up over 500% in the past three years."
Venus is one of Australia's most prominent adult video and novelty chains with over a dozen stores. The outcome of the Private/Calvista suit represents a milestone for AICO, and a warning to video pirates. .
"This latest judgment continues to vindicate our enforcement program and uphold the copyright of AICO's members," said AICO Executive Officer Graeme Dunne. "Adult film pirates should understand that this decision gives AICO's members added confidence in all current and future piracy matters."