The suit names 99 allegedly infringed titles, DeWitt said, and Zero Tolerance is pursuing the maximum penalty for each title as allowed by law.
AdultsAllowed.com operates a monthly membership site that gives customers access to downloadable movies, paysites and an adult dating service.
The alleged copyright infringement was brought to light after Zero Tolerance Marketing Director Domenick Bongiorno stumbled upon a Zero Tolerance video clip from a new movie that was watermarked with “AdultsAllowed.com.” Bongiorno told XBIZ that this immediately raised a red flag because only the first 18 titles from the studio were available for webmaster licensing, not newer releases.
After being contacted by Zero Tolerance, Canadian-based AdultsAllowed.com owner Shaun Ferguson claimed he legally licensed Zero Tolerance content from a Canadian firm, according to Bongiorno. Ferguson allegedly supplied corresponding documents to Zero Tolerance, but Bongiorno claims the address on the form did not exist and the phone number was not operational.
“By filing a proof of service to AdultsAllowed.com, that will trigger events that requires certain disclosures on their part,” DeWitt said. “Once a defendant is served, the result is the judge issuing a scheduling order which will set trial dates.”
This case is unique because there are no tangible goods that can be counted. In a typical case of this kind, the severity of the copyright infringement penalty is partly enforced by how many times each individual title was illegally copied. In this situation, it will be how many times each individual title was illegally downloaded. As the case wends its way through the courts those are the facts that will come to light, DeWitt said.
“When issuing a penalty for copyright infringement, the judge must determine three things,” DeWitt said. “How much did [the copyright infringement] hurt the copyright holder? How much did the infringer benefit financially? And then punitive damages.”
Zero Tolerance’s complaint also includes a claim for counterfeiting, a component of federal trademark law that allows plaintiffs to collect up to $1 million for each trademark intentionally associated with a counterfeited product. This violation allegedly occurred when AdultsAllowed.com displayed the studio’s boxcovers and logos without permission.
“I have said it before, and I will keep saying it until all these pirates listen,” Zero Tolerance President Greg Alves said. “Zero Tolerance has zero tolerance for piracy and counterfeiting. It is unfair for our loyal customers for us to stand by and allow this sort of blatant piracy to remain unchecked. Not to mention the damage it exacts on our company.”