Playboy Lacks Valid Copyrights to Kate Moss Pics, LeBook.com Says

Rhett Pardon

LOS ANGELES — The operators of LeBook.com, accused of poaching and reproducing Playboy magazine's high-res pics of fashion model Kate Moss on their website, have come up with a number of affirmative defenses in the copyright infringement case waged against them.

Among its defenses, Le Book Publishing claims that Playboy Enterprises is barred from any recovery of damages because it lacks valid copyright registrations for the Moss pictures in the 18-page pictorial, that some of the pictures depicted by Playboy are in the public domain and that Le Book has a license to display some or all of the images at the heart of the suit.

Playboy in a suit filed last week at Los Angeles federal court claims that Le Book violated its copyrights in an "ongoing, wanton and willful" fashion only days, if not hours, after Playboy's January release of its special 60th Anniversary issue, which featured the English model in a spread that was licensed to Playboy.

The suit alleges that Le Book also facilitated countless other acts of infringement by third parties which likely shared the contents of Playboy and Moss with social networks.

"Le Book conveniently provides browsers of its infringing content with a series of icons and options just below the photos," the suit said. "These icons and options enable users to blow up the photos into even larger, high-resolution shots, print their own [infringing] copies of the entire spread, and 'share' the infringing content with others via email and social networks such as Facebook."

But Le Book attorney Garth Drozin told XBIZ that Playboy Enterprises' allegations are misleading and that the posting of Moss photos wasn’t the first time that Le Book had republished material from Playboy.

Drozin said there was a “working harmony” between the two companies and that Le Book's posted photos of Moss likely increased exposure to the gentlemen's magazine.

Drozin, who recently answered the complaint on behalf of Le Book, said that it was “business as usual” between the companies when Le Book was hit with the complaint.

Playboy spokesman Ray Yeung declined to discuss specifics of the case; however, he said the company stands vigilant when it comes to further copyright infringement of its Moss pictorial.

Playboy recently sued another company, Harper’s Bazaar, for publishing Moss' Playboy photos. Harper’s editors last month posted a photograph of Moss dressed in its trademark Playboy bunny ears outfit online.

"Playboy actively enforces rights to protect its valuable, copyrighted content," Yeung told XBIZ. "While we will not comment on specific actions, we can confirm that we are pursuing unauthorized republications of content from our 60th anniversary issue."

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