LOS ANGELES — The husband-and-wife team that operates AdultDVDTalk.com have been hit with infringement claims by a mainstream photo agency over eight celebrity images posted in its online forum.
The suit, which seeks $2.4 million, claims that AdultDVDTalk infringed on copyright-registered photographs taken by Pacific Coast News of celebrities Amanda Seyfried, Sarah Highland and Selena Gomez.
AdultDVDTalk has provided a space for fans, performers, directors, retailers and industry insiders to connect since 1999.
Drew Black, who with his wife runs AdultDVDTalk, told XBIZ that the plaintiff that is suing them is clearly a “copyright troll” that is using an "opportunistic lawsuit" that threatens the future of his company.
“It's more than a bit ironic that we're being dragged into a suit like this,” Black said. “We don't allow any form of promotion of pirated content in our message forum. No links to tube sites, no discussion of how to grab movies from Torrent sites, etc. Some fans get upset with us over these policies.”
Pacific Coast News, which has filed 126 similar copyright claims against defendants in the past four years, said in its suit against AdultDVDTalk that its business isn’t “safe harbored” by the DMCA because its forum has moderators that have “specific forum-related powers beyond that of a typical user.”
“Defendant cannot claim that it was unaware of the infringing activities …,” according to an amended complaint filed last week at Los Angeles federal court.
But Black said that the photos in question were posted at the direction of a user and that the plaintiff is claiming otherwise in the suit. He also said that AdultDVDTalk has had a published DMCA takedown policy and procedure in place since the site went live.
“It's worked well for us and we're always cooperative when copyright owners reach out to us,” Black said. “We are responsive and remove the images in question within an hour or two.
“However, the plaintiff is claiming that because AdultDVDTalk was not registered with the U.S. Copyright Office and that the takedown process and ‘safe harbor’ provisions do not apply to us and we are therefore liable for the maximum damages allowed by law.”
Black said that the plaintiff never sent a DMCA takedown request, and that he hasn’t yet even been served. He only knows about the complaint because the first lawsuit misidentified the name of the company and that he later found out about it.
“No extortion letter. Not even an email or message through the various public means available on our site,” Black said. “The first contact we are likely to have with the plaintiff is when the process server shows up at our door with the summons that was issued on March 21.”
Black said that AdultDVDTalk has “two experienced anti-troll attorneys” lined up to help battle Pacific Coast News.
"The suit seeks $2.4 million in damages," he said. $150,000 per image for direct infringement and $150,000 per image for vicarious Infringement. Eight images times $300,000."
“Unfortunately, a defense of any type is going to be more expensive than we can afford. That's why we launched the fundraising campaign the day after the summons was issued.”
Black said that he and his wife have created a legal defense fund on FundRazr.com and are seeking donations, with a goal of $30,000, to help defend the case.