2 Suits Against Tube Site SunPorno Move Forward

LAS VEGAS & CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — A pair of copyright infringement suits targeting SunPorno.com have moved forward after two judges in separate jurisdictions ruled that discovery requests can go on.

In two separate rulings in the past week, SunPorno.com and its operator were ordered to produce documents and answer interrogatories requested by counsel from both Corbin Fisher and Private Media Group. Both judges limited discovery requests to jurisdictional issues.

Earlier this year, SunPorno and owner Sergej Letyagin of the Czech Republic were sued by Private Media Group and Corbin Fisher in separate suits over allegedly streaming copyrighted videos on its tube site, but the defendants claim they are immune from prosecution because they have no business contacts in either Nevada, where Corbin Fisher filed its case, or Iowa, where Private Media Group filed theirs.

Private Media Group, through its Fraserside Division, sued SunPorno for 39 movies allegedly found on its site, amounting to $5.85 million in damages, while Corbin Fisher's $900,000 complaint targets six of its videos said to be found on SunPorno.

In both cases SunPorno and Letyagin have challenged jurisdictional issues, saying that the cases can't be tried in either Iowa or Nevada, even with the respective states' long-arm statutes, because there are insufficient minimum contacts by the operators — Letyagin says he lives in Prague and SunPorno's parent company is based in Seychelles located in the Indian Ocean.

But today a federal judge in Iowa refused to dismiss Private's suit against SunPorno and Letyagin, saying he didn't yet have to rule on the state's long-arm statute, allowing discovery to go on.

In Corbin Fisher's Nevada claim against SunPorno, a federal judge last Wednesday green lighted discovery requests but put a stay on the requests until a motion to dismiss the suit has been ruled on.

Attorney Val Gurvits, who represents SunPorno and Letyagin, told XBIZ that ultimately both cases against the tube site will be dismissed.

"Both plaintiffs received permission to conduct discovery limited to jurisdictional issues, and  I don’t see these cases going too far beyond that," Gurvits said. "SunPorno does not have sufficient contacts with the states to be subject to jurisdiction here. Moreover, SunPorno complies with the DMCA and is therefore immune from liability for the actions of its users. 

But Jason Tucker, a Private Media Group consultant and director of intellectual property management firm Battleship Stance, said that Gurvits is incorrect, particularly with the Private case.

"Val said back in January that the case would be over soon," Tucker told XBIZ. "Today a federal judge said that it will continue and denied their motion to dismiss. The case is continuing and time will tell all. His client should settle instead of risking his whole business."

Gurvits, however, said the tube site, which has a No. 994 worldwide traffic rank on Alexa, isn't budging and will defend against legal volleys.

 "SunPorno will vigorously defend itself through trial if necessary, but I believe these cases should be dismissed sooner — either for lack of jurisdiction or pursuant to the DMCA's safe harbor," Gurvits said.