Q&A: AdultDVDTalk Finds Itself in Suit Over Celebrity Pics

Q&A: AdultDVDTalk Finds Itself in Suit Over Celebrity Pics
Rhett Pardon

LOS ANGELES — The infringement suit has been filed; however the defendants, operators of AdultDVDTalk.com, still have not been served with a complaint that seeks $2.4 million in damages.

A company called Pacific Coast News filed suit this month against AdultDVDTalk — one of the Internet’s oldest adult sites that provided a space for fans, performers, directors, retailers and industry insiders to connect — over eight celebrity images posted in its online forum.

Pacific Coast News alleges in the suit filed at Los Angeles federal court that Maine-based AdultDVDTalk infringed on photographs of celebrities Amanda Seyfried, Sarah Highland and Selena Gomez that were allegedly posted on its message board.

Pacific Coast News said that they own the eight pics that were found on the board and that each one of them has a copyright.

Further, Pacific Coast News said in the suit that AdultDVDTalk was not registered with the U.S. Copyright Office and that the DMCA takedown process and “safe harbor”’ provisions do not apply to them.

Last week, in an interview with XBIZ, Drew Black, who with his wife runs AdultDVDTalk, said that the plaintiff in the suit is a “copyright troll” that is using an "opportunistic lawsuit" that threatens the future of his company.

In a federal court records search, XBIZ found that Pacific Coast News has filed 126 similar copyright claims against defendants in the past four years.

To help defend the suit, 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.

XBIZ today spoke with Black about the legacy of AdultDVDTalk, its legal defense fund and other details incorporated into the Pacific Coast News lawsuit.

XBIZ: You started AdultDVDTalk 17 years ago. What gave you the idea and how has it grown?

BLACK: Before AdultDVDTalk we ran an online adult DVD retail outlet called DiVaDee for some investors who wanted to be in the online retail space. We advertised DiVaDee on a variety of mainstream DVD websites that offered price search engines, release calendars, forums and reviews. When the investors were taking another company public they shuttered their smutty upstart. In a room off of a garage we combined the best features of those movie websites into ADT in a way that would complement stalwart adult resources like IAFD and RogReviews.

From Day 1 we had support from our previous competitors (e.g.: AdultDVDEmpire) despite our terrible web design. In the early days we had live chats with legends to draw an audience: Marilyn Chambers, Peter North, Jenna Jameson, Ginger Lynn ... and some like Jules Jordan still participate to this day.

We've weathered the ups and downs of the DVD market and are currently straddling the transition from packaged media to online streaming/download. Our community is made up of true porn fans who support the industry by paying for their porn. The industry participation in the forum fosters that support.

XBIZ: What have you learned about the company, Pacific Coast News, that is suing your business?

BLACK: Not much. We have been focusing our efforts on our defense strategy and fundraising. My knowledge of BWP Media/PCN primarily comes from websites like ExtortionLetterInfo.com. I did read recently in the XBIZ.net forums that it appears BWP Media/PCN was recently sold to World Entertainment News Network in the U.K.

XBIZ: Where did the eight celebrity photos that allegedly were placed on the site originate? Was it one or more users?

BLACK: The answers to these questions will be elements of our defense strategy.

XBIZ: Were the pics at center of attention taken down?

BLACK: Yes, as soon as we became aware of the alleged infringements. We always remove images when requested by copyright owners.

XBIZ: The suit against AdultDVDTalk said that the 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.” What’s wrong with their statement?

BLACK: There are many things wrong with this statement. However, these are arguments we may need to make at trial if the process moves that far. So I can't provide more details at this time.

XBIZ: This lawsuit is nearly six months old. The suit was filed against AdultDVDTalk in October 2015 but originally named BushDVD operator Norman Baccash, who now has incurred at least $17,000 in legal fees and now wants it back. How did Pacific Coast News get the name of the operator, as well as the name of the company, wrong in the original complaint? 

BLACK: I have my own personal theories on how BushDVD became the target of the lawsuit. But my thoughts are only a guess. The plaintiff's version of how they decided to target BushDVD is part of the court docket. I can say that the plaintiff was unable or unwilling to do the most basic research to determine the true owner of the AdultDVDTalk.com domain name. They admit this fact using different language in the documents on file with the court.

XBIZ: Your "Keep Talk Alive" campaign on FundRazr is coming along quite nicely with already 68 contributors helping with reaching your $30,000 goal to help fight this lawsuit. What gave you the idea?

BLACK: The fundraising was born out of necessity. We have experience fundraising in our non-porn careers. With help from our community we researched the best crowdfunding platform. And now we're depending on our community to help us get through this case. If even a small fraction of our audience claims the $30 "All-Star" perk we'll hopefully be able to cover our legal fees. Performer and longtime forum member Angela White took the lead on the $300 company sponsorships. Who doesn't want to follow in Angela White's footsteps?

This lawsuit is not a great reason to be reaching out to the industry but the support we're receiving is uplifting. Even companies that sometimes stand on the plaintiff side of copyright lawsuits understand that our community takes a hardline stance against piracy and have offered us advice.

View exhibit of celebrity pics