SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge today gave approval for three gay adult studios to collect $5.36 million in copyright infringement damages from tube site operators Steven and David Compton, who currently operate JerkYourTube.eu, GayForIt.eu and ItsAllGay.eu.
Channel 1 Releasing, Corbin Fisher and Titan Media were granted awards of $1.79 million a piece by U.S. District Judge Maxine Chesney, who vacated future hearings in the case.
The three gay studios originally asked the court to award a collective $29 million based upon the Compton's profits while streaming poached movies on three of their tube sites, but the court said that it wouldn't base an award on gross revenue.
Instead, the court, acting on evidence supplied by industry attorney Gill Sperlein, representing Titan Media and Channel 1 Releasing, and Marc Randazza, counsel for Corbin Fisher, said it would award damages based on the studios' actual licensing royalty fee losses.
"The court finds plaintiffs have offered evidence, undisputed by any defendant, sufficient to establish each plaintiff’s actual damages, i.e., the amount defendants reasonably would have been required to pay to publish plaintiffs’ copyrighted works on defendants’ websites," Chesney wrote.
Today's ruling now paves the way for collection efforts after more than two years of litigation over content allegedly poached and streamed on the Compton's now-defunct JerkYourTube.com, GayForIt.com and ItsAllGay.com tube sites.
The case was brought to the forefront when the California gay studios in 2010 said they would collectively take a stand on blatant copyright infringement. "United we stand, divided we fall!" Keith Webb of Titan Media told XBIZ at the time. "I’m gonna be working in a sweat shop soon if we don’t do something about these pirates."
In the suit, the Comptons' three .com sites were described as "prime examples of websites designed with the sole purpose of redirecting profits from copyright holders to the un-invested poachers operating the infringing sites."
But the Comptons, without counsel, told the court in a response that they were immune from civil liability because they operate as an ISP under the provisions of the DMCA and that they couldn't be sued in the U.S. because it is an "inconvenient forum" (the pair operate their GLBT Inc. company from the U.K.).
At one point the Comptons hired a California attorney to defend themselves, but six months into the job they fired him.
The Comptons, apparently turning their backs on the U.S. justice system, have not responded to court communications and orders for more than one year.
And perhaps fearing an unwinnable case — particularly after they were found by the court to have destroyed internal emails, takedown notices and removal notifications — the Comptons dumped their .com sites and rebranded them as JerkYourTube.eu, GayForIt.eu and ItsAllGay.eu.
At the time, Sperlein said that the "defendants recognized it was time to jump from the sinking ship" by moving their assets out of the U.S.
In March, the court found GLBT Inc. and the Comptons liable for direct copyright infringement, vicarious copyright infringement and contributory copyright infringement.
Sperlein on Tuesday said the long legal piracy battle with the Comptons "unfortunately is not over."
"Collecting on the judgment will not be easy, but we will press on," Sperlein told XBIZ. "More importantly, we will continue the fight in order to put an end to the Compton's continued operation of their blatantly infringing websites."
XBIZ was unable to reach the Comptons by post time.