Porn Company Vivid Sues Its Own Customer Over Copyright

Vivid, the world's leading adult film company is sueing PornoTube, a YouTube-like site offering XXX content. Vivid claims that its content is available on PornoTube without permission or compliance with age verification rules. Interestingly, PornoTube's owner, AEBN, is actually a Vivid customer already.

One of the world’s largest adult film creators, Vivid Entertainment Group, has had enough of free porn site, PornoTube.com and is taking legal action against it. Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, the lawsuit against PornoTube’s parent companies ‘Data Conversions Inc’ and ‘AEBN’ states that the defendants “copied, published, distributed and publicly displayed Vivid’s copyright works through the website PornoTube.com”

The lawsuit states that the “defendant’s business plan depends on the uploading, posting, display and performance of copyrighted audio-visual works belonging to Vivid and others” and that the defendants “knowingly built a library of infringing works to draw Internet traffic” to its website.

Listing dozens of Vivid movies available to view on PornoTube (PT), the lawsuit claims that these were uploaded by PT’s users after being encouraged to do so by PT. Under US copyright law, each offense could carry damages of $150,000 per infringement. In addition to an injunction to halt any further potential infringements, the lawsuit seeks damages of $4.5 million.

Additionally, it’s claimed that PornoTube fails to comply with the federal Child Protection and Obscenity Enforcement Act. Although the Act covers those who produce sexually explicit material (PornoTube do not), there is another category of producer known as a ‘secondary producer’ – which is anyone who publishes and reproduces content – a category under which PornoTube seems to fall. Vivid’s attorney, Paul Cambria said: “Once they put up any material on their site and fit it into their format, they are no longer just a ‘pass through’ medium—they have become producers or distributors under the law.”

According to the suit, PornoTube fails to take steps to validate the age of the actors in the videos it carries, explained here by Steven Hirsch, co-chairman of Vivid: “PornoTube and AEBN have exactly the same responsibility as any other adult content distributor or producer to obey U.S. copyright laws and 2257 regulations”

Vivid also believe that due to PornoTube avoiding the costs associated with conforming with the ’2257′ regulations, they have an unfair competitive edge: “Vivid spends enormous sums to copyright its content and to comply with the Child Protection and Obscenity Enforcement Act age verification process. PornoTube and AEBN have been getting away with a practice that unlawfully earns it millions of dollars at our expense.”

Apparently, Vivid’s attorney, Paul Cambria, is happy to use the DMCA against PornoTube but is unhappy at the way it operates in other areas, particularly take-down requests: “Vivid should not have to take responsibility for policing PornoTube on a minute by minute basis to protect its rights,” he said.

Interestingly, AEBN – owner of PornoTube, who describes itself on its site as the “Global Leader in Pay-Per-View”, is actually already a big customer of Vivid Entertainment, as can be seen from this section on their site, where they are listing 971 Vivid movies available for paid download.

The RIAA and MPAA have been sueing their own customers for years, so the porn industry is playing catch-up here. However, this action against PornoTube is just the tip of the iceberg. The porn industry is about to start targeting file-sharers using the same tactics as the RIAA and MPAA – infringement notices will be appearing in mail boxes shortly.

Stay tuned for that report very soon.

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