In the suit filed at U.S. District Court in Tampa, U.K. resident Lara Jade Coton accuses Texas-based TVX Inc., its president Bob Burge and others of copyright infringement, civil conspiracy, misappropriation of her image, invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Coton’s attorney, Richard A. Harrison, told XBIZ that TVX and Burge failed to respond to Coton’s second-amended complaint or to file an objection with the court, and the judge in the case this month denied their request to set aside the defaults.
“The next step will be for us to have default judgments entered, which will establish their legal liability to Ms. Coton, and then to ask the court to set a trial to determine the amount of damages to be awarded,” Harrison said.
Coton, now 20, reportedly shot the self-portrait in question when she was 14 years old. But, according to the suit, the image “has never been licensed, approved or authorized by Lara Jade for use in any manner whatsoever by these defendants, and certainly not for use in conjunction with the manufacture, distribution, sale or marketing of pornographic videos.”
Coton later received an anonymous tip telling her that her self-portrait was being used as box cover and DVD face art for “Body Magic.” In January 2007, Coton contacted Burge via email to notify him of the unauthorized use of her image.
“I am absolutely disgusted that you’ve used my artwork for such a subject,” Coton wrote in the email, according to court documents. “I was 14 at the time the picture was taken and I had no clue until today that you were using it in such a way.”
According to the suit, Burge was less than contrite about the use of Coton’s image, and “took the opportunity to gratuitously ridicule Lara Jade,” stating in his email reply that “To date there have only been a couple hundred DVDs sold throughout the world so the picture is of little importance so I’ll be glad to have them change the art.”
After first contacting Burge, Coton again emailed him to request the name and contact information of the company that had allegedly provided TVX with the unauthorized image. That same day, Coton emailed Burge and requested compensation for use of her image.
Burge rebuffed Coton’s request, according to court documents, stating, “Not only will you not be compensated for your photo we have turned this problem over to our attorney.”
Burge asserted in his response that the company the image was obtained from “is a public domain operation.”
“You knew this when you originally sent us your scheming letter,” Burge wrote, according to the suit. “Nice try toots. We are still going to remove you from the art, not because of your claim but let’s face it your picture means very little to the film.”
In another email, written in all capital letters, Burge allegedly taunted Coton further, and stated that “removing your image will help improve the sale of the DVD, [because] so far it bombed.”
In February 2007, Coton received an email from A.J. Cohen, TVX’s graphic artist, who said the company would withdraw her image from “Body Magic.”
"Your image has immediately been removed from any TVX DVD packaging, DVD face art, website as well as having all sales personnel instructed to stop selling it immediately,” he said.
But despite assurances from Burge, TVX and Cohen that her photo would be discontinued in connection with the distribution and sale of "Body Magic," Burge and TVX did not change the face art of the DVDs, according to court documents.
Two weeks ago, U.S. District Judge Thomas Wilson ruled that TVX had failed to comply with a court order directing it to show cause why default should not be entered against it.
Wilson said he didn’t accept the contention that TVX said it had not been served with the second-amended complaint. He also did not accept the excuse that Burge had health problems, which was cited, that precluded him from responding.
TVX markets more than 100 classic adult DVDs at TVXFilms.com. Also named in the suit are Cyber Services, Right Ascension, IdeaMax, Risque Video, DRS and Tricon Interactive Inc., which owns AdultCDDVDvideo.com, 24HourAdultDVD.com and AmazingTails.com.
XBIZ was unable to reach Burge for comment by post time.