Filed Dec. 6 in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Vivid’s lawsuit claims copyright infringement, misappropriation of the right of publicity and unfair business practices. The lawsuit states that “among other things, defendants copied, published, distributed, and publicly displayed Vivid’s copyrighted works by and through the website PornoTube.com.”
The suit names over 30 Vivid movies uploaded to PornoTube, maintaining that as the owners of PornoTube, the North Carolina-based Data Conversions encouraged users to post this material in willful violation of Vivid's lawful copyrights. The suit notes that the law allows for damages of up to $150,000 for each copyrighted work.
Furthermore, the suit alleges, Data Conversions has failed to comply with labeling requirements under the federal 2257 record-keeping laws. Since Pornotube does not host the proper records or spend the money to meet these requirements, Vivid claims that the site owners are gaining an unfair advantage.
“This action against PornoTube is groundbreaking,” said attorney Paul Cambria, who is representing Vivid in the suit along with L.A.-based attorney Mark Hoffman. “AEBN and PornoTube are not exempt from their responsibility to comply with 2257 rules, and we will demonstrate in court that they are obtaining an unfair business advantage by violating this obligation.”
“Vivid spends enormous sums to copyright its content and to comply with the Child Protection and Obscenity Enforcement Act age verification process," said Vivid co-chairman Steven Hirsch. "PornoTube and AEBN have been getting away with a practice that unlawfully earns it millions of dollars at our expense.”
According to a copy of the lawsuit obtained by AVN, Vivid is seeking damages of “at least $4.5 million dollars," along with a permanent injunction requiring Data Conversions "to employ reasonable methodologies and/or technologies" limiting copyright infringement, and a written declaration stating that the defendants have willfully infringed Vivid's copyrights.
Vivid requested a jury trial to hear claims that the defendants “have used technological advancements to willfully infringe copyrights belonging to Plaintiff, depriving Plaintiff of the lawful rewards that accompany creativity, effort and innovation.” The suit contends that the “defendant’s business plan depends on the uploading, posting, display and performance of copyrighted audio-visual works belonging to Vivid and others” and that the defendants “knowingly built a library of infringing works to draw Internet traffic” to its website.
Vivid contends that PornoTube’s infringement causes “great and irreparable injury that cannot fully be compensated or measured in money.”
In addition to Data Conversions, the suit names WMM, a Nevada-based limited liability corporation believed to "also own and/or operate Pornotube," and 20 unknown defendants identified as John Does. "[Vivid] will amend this complaint when the true names and capacities of the Doe defendants become known," the lawsuit states.
"We've decided to take a stand and say 'no more,' " Hirsch told the Los Angeles Times. "We will go after all the free sites."
AEBN has not returned calls seeking comment at post time.