Pink Visual, Motherless Argue Infringement Case in Front of 9th Circuit

Pink Visual, Motherless Argue Infringement Case in Front of 9th Circuit
Rhett Pardon

PASADENA, Calif. — The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals today heard Pink Visual’s appeal over a federal court ruling made in 2013 that granted summary judgment to adult tube site Motherless.com in an infringement case.

Adult studio Pink Visual sued Motherless in 2012 after its employees found 19 copyrighted films, including 33 scenes, owned by Pink Visual's parent company, Ventura Content, on the tube site.

But the case was dismissed on summary judgment after U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson in Los Angeles ruled that Motherless' operators were entitled to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's safe-harbor provisions as an Internet service provider.

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

On Monday, 9th Circuit Judges Jacqueline Nguyen, Johnnie Rawlinson and Andrew Kleinfeld listened to arguments in the case made by Pink Visual appellate counsel Peter Afrasiabi and Motherless appellate counsel David Richman.

Motherless, one of the largest adult tube sites on the web, has grown into a behemoth with 750,000 members and about 12 million tube site entries since it became established in 2008.

In describing Motherless’ operation, Afrasiabi told the court that the tube site and its owner, Joshua Lange, run it with “zero license deals” from adult filmmakers and that “their business is infringement and the monetization [of poached content].”

“Ninety percent [of the scenes and full-length features on the site] are infringement,” Afrasiabi said.

But in its defense and support of its contention that it had “reasonably” implemented its repeat-infringer policy, Richman noted that all take down notices were complied with — but only if DMCA notices were properly submitted and included each and every aspect required for such.

Richman noted that Motherless has terminated between 1,300 and 2,000 users for various reasons, including alleged copyright infringement.

Pink Visual identified nine Motherless 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.

In its decision whether to allow the case to be heard in front of a jury at district court, the 9th Circuit will focus on whether the lower court abused its discretion in making a summary judgment ruling in the infringement case.

Wilson, the district court judge, earlier ruled 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.”

To view today's hearing, click here.

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