Homegrownvideo in Licensing Squabble

Rhett Pardon
LOS ANGELES – The companies which operate Homegrownvideo.com have filed suit in federal court against Voice Media Inc. and two other Internet firms alleging copyright infringement in an apparent failed marketing and licensing deal.

The suit, filed last month in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, alleges that now-defunct Voice Media, which operated Cybererotica.com, contributed to infringement by making a copy of the “Homegrown Video Website Tour” available online without permission from Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based New Destiny Internet Group and San Diego-based Xplor, the companies which operate Homegrownvideo.

New Destiny entered into a website reseller and marketing agreement deal with Voice Media to market Homegrownvideo through banner and text links on cybererotica.com.

Voice Media is purported to have sold those rights to Trade News, a Netherlands corporation, and Internet Business Services of Anaheim, the suit alleges. New Destiny contends, according to the suit, that it never authorized Trade News and Internet Business to link and gain access to New Destiny’s site.

“I have no idea why this suit was filed,” Ron Levi, who once lead Voice Media and now is president of Calabasas, Calif.-based New Internet Ventures Inc., told XBiz. “The fact is that Voice Media was liquidated, and Trade News purchased the assets – the properties changed hands.”

The lawsuit alleges that Voice Media, Trade News and Internet Business directed traffic to other websites with pop-ups, without reciprocal direction to New Destiny’s site and created other websites “with content that competed with the content on the New Destiny site” and directed traffic to those other sites and co-mingling credit processing for New Destiny’s account with other sites.

New Destiny also accuses the defendants of offering lifetime or unlimited memberships to the New Destiny site for free or at a discount “as an incentive for those customers not to make charge-backs against other sites owned or controlled by [the] defendants.” It also alleges that the defendants canceled some memberships while double-charging others when New Destiny discovered the lifetime/unlimited offers and objected to them.

New Destiny is also asking a judge to enact a temporary restraining order that would effectively stop the three companies from any accused infringing activity including “copying, duplicating, distributing, selling, publishing, reproducing, displaying, preparing derivative works based on, or otherwise communicating in any manner ... printed, audio, photogenic, electronic, or in any other form” the “Homegrown Video Website Tour” and its materials.

New Destiny CEO Edward “Spike” Goldberg told XBiz the suit was filed because the defendants did not accept accountability with the way it conducted business.

“By being offshore, the company ruined our relationship with customers by overbilling and other acts,” Goldberg said. “I cannot think of a more despicable way to run a company.”

Levi is skeptical the suit will proceed because of a built-in clause to the contract, he said.

“We believe that the contract we had calls for arbitration [in the event of litigation],” Levi told XBiz.