Pink Visual Appeals DMCA Decision in Motherless Case

Rhett Pardon

LOS ANGELES — Pink Visual on Wednesday filed an appeal with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals over a federal court ruling last month that granted summary judgment to adult tube site

Pink Visual sued Motherless last year after its employees found 19 copyrighted films, including 33 scenes, owned by Pink Visual's parent company, Ventura Content, on its site.

But last month U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson ruled that Motherless' operators were entitled to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's safe-harbor provisions as an Internet service provider.

As a result, Wilson terminated the case, granting Motherless summary judgment.

The gravamen of Pink Visual's charge in the case was that Motherless hadn't “reasonably” implemented effective procedures for dealing with DMCA-complaint notifications over poached content.

But in its defense and support of its contention that it had “reasonably” implemented their repeat-infringer policy, Motherless attorneys submitted evidence that they had terminated between 1,300 and 2,000 users for alleged copyright infringement.

Pink Visual, in response to that contention that Motherless kicked out repeat copyright thieves on an on-going basis, identified nine users — eight users who uploaded the 19 films at center of the case, as well as one other user — it alleged are infringers who should have been terminated but were not.

Wilson, however, said that "the DMCA requires only that the policy be 'reasonably'— not 'perfectly' — implemented, and thus “occasional lapses are not fatal to the service provider’s immunity.”

"Assuming plaintiff’s best case — that defendants identified, and terminated 1,300 repeat infringers  — defendants’ failure to terminate nine of these users (or less than .01 percent of recognized repeat infringers) is nothing more than an 'occasional lapse' in the implementation of its policy," Wilson ruled.

"Moreover, defendant was not required to terminate at least eight of the nine users identified," he ruled. "[A] service provider is only required to terminate a repeat infringer under 'appropriate circumstances.'"

Wilson said that although the DMCA does not clarify when it is "appropriate" for service providers to act, courts have consistently interpreted this phrase as requiring termination only when a service provider has sufficient evidence of a user’s “blatant, repeat infringement of a willful and commercial nature.”

Pink Visual, in its suit at U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, also alleged that Motherless was liable for unfair business practices because it showed disregard to federal rules that apply to the legal porn business, specifically the record-keeping law for adult producers, 18 U.S.C. § 2257(a).

Pink Visual asserted in the case that legitimate porn distributors spend enormous sums to comply with the law and the defendants don't. But Wilson in his ruling shot that offense down and declined to exercise jurisdiction over the claims.

"These allegations do not share a common nucleus of operative fact with plaintiff’s copyright claims," he ruled. "Defendants’ failure to keep records has little, if anything, to do with the copyrighted material that appeared on their system."

Officials at Pink Visual did not immediately return a message to XBIZ for comment. Motherless' operator, Joshua Lange of Staten Island, N.Y., was not able to be reached at post time.