SAN FRANCISCO — The website operators hit with a $29 million lawsuit waged by Channel One Releasing, Corbin Fisher and Titan Media on Tuesday denied responsibility to more than 200 infringement claims.
The three gay adult studios teamed up in March against U.K. residents Steven and David Compton, who operate JerkYourTube.com, GayForIt.com and ItsAllGay.com, which all allow surfers to upload content.
The Comptons, in a response to the plaintiffs on Tuesday, said that their companies are immune from civil liability because they operate as an Internet service provider under the safe provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
The Comptons also contend in their responses that they can't be sued in the U.S. because it is an "inconvenient forum" because they operate as an England-based company.
Two of the attorneys working for plaintiffs blasted the Comptons' 18-page response on Wednesday.
"We are not surprised that the Comptons find it 'inconvenient' to be sued for millions of dollars," Corbin Fisher General Counsel Marc Randazza told XBIZ. "I'd find that inconvenient too. But, the Comptons did not find it 'inconvenient' to steal from American companies, nor did they find it 'inconvenient' to cash the checks for the money they made off of this theft."
Gill Sperlein, Titan Media's general counsel, said he too wasn't surprised by the Comptons denial of claims.
"They continue to deny their responsibility in the mass infringement of gay content," Sperlein told XBIZ. "The truth is they could prevent infringing material from being added to their websites, but they elect not to.
"Rather they encourage the infringing activity by rewarding individuals who upload content and then they sell the content through their monthly membership business model."
In the suit, the three U.S. studios contend that the Compton's business model follows a system where they require uploaders to "strip away any evidence that the content is a professional or copyright registered work by prohibiting any video that has the copyright owners’ titles, credits or watermarks."
"Defendants place their brand on plaintiff’s intellectual property as if it belonged to them," the original complaint says.
The Comptons not only are known as operators of the three similar-formatted sites, but the pair last year rolled out COP-CMS, a software program that proclaims to protect adult studios from copyright infringement.
Randazza said that Corbin Fisher initially was willing to forego the infringement suit if the Comptons agreed to certain caveats.
"All we asked for were two very simple and reasonable concessions: For them to block repeat infringers by IP address, and not by email address," he said. "If you block them by email address, the same asshole just goes and gets another free gmail account and continues to steal our materials.
"We also asked that they provide some way to identify the people who were stealing our content. They decided that this would crimp their style too much — and I can imagine that it would.
"If their websites blocked all repeat infringers, their site would look like a barren wasteland. And that illustrates the point we are trying to make — if you have a business that can't survive without theft, then you need to change your business or go out of business."
The Comptons attorney, Oceanside, Calif.-based Jonathan Capp, did not immediately respond to XBIZ for comment on Wednesday.