OAKLAND, Calif. — The long-running $29 million lawsuit waged by Channel One Releasing, Corbin Fisher and Titan Media against tube site operators Steven and David Compton has taken a turn.
The three gay adult studios, which teamed up in an infringement suit against the Comptons for poached content on JerkYourTube.com, GayForIt.com and ItsAllGay.com, have filed a motion for terminating sanctions for spoliation of evidence.
"What this means is that the defendants have admitted that they destroyed key evidence in this case," attorney Marc Randazza, who represents Corbin Fisher, told XBIZ. "The extent of the destruction was so great that it seems likely that the court will simply grant a default in the case to the plaintiffs."
The Comptons, according to a court filing, allegedly destroyed emails, video files and other documents and had continued refusal "ad nauseum" to provide access to 1.8 million records in their database during the discovery process.
Randazza further said that the Comptons tried to change focus by demanding information on the three studios' "lost revenues" from alleged piracy, noting that oftentimes infringement defendants "try and employ desperate measures to misdirect the court and to sap the plaintiff's resolve."
"One tactic they take is threatening to make the discovery process burdensome by claiming a right to dig into the plaintiff's financial records and other matters that are wholly irrelevant to the issue of copyright infringement," he said.
If the judge rules for a default, Randazza said that he and attorney Gill Sperlein, who represents Titan Media, plan on an aggressive move against the tube sites' business partners.
"[W]e fully expect to begin a collection campaign which will include taking action against anyone who did business with these infringers, because you can't view any of these websites without knowing full well that they are a clearinghouse for stolen content," Randazza said.
In the original complaint, the three U.S. studios contend that the Compton's business model follows a system where they require uploaders to "strip away any evidence that the content is a professional or copyright registered work by prohibiting any video that has the copyright owners’ titles, credits or watermarks."
"Defendants place their brand on plaintiff’s intellectual property as if it belonged to them," the original complaint says.
The Comptons, both U.K. residents, not only are known as operators of the three similar-formatted sites, but the pair last year rolled out COP-CMS, a software program that proclaims to protect adult studios from copyright infringement.
In an earlier response to the suit, the Comptons said that their companies are immune from civil liability because they operate as an Internet service provider under the safe provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
The Comptons also contend in their responses that they can't be sued in the U.S. because it is an "inconvenient forum" because they operate as an U.K.-based company.
A hearing will be held at U.S. District Court in Oakland later this month relative to the evidence motion against the Comptons.
Jonathan Capp, an Oceanside, Calif.-based attorney who represents the Comptons through their GLBT Ltd. company, did not immediately respond to XBIZ for comment.