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October 18, 2015

MindGeek Involved in Separate Suits as Plaintiff, Defendant

LOS ANGELES—MindGeek finds itself involved in two lawsuits on opposite ends of the country; one as a plaintiff and one as a defendant. The first suit, filed Oct. 13 in U.S. District Court Central District of California, was initiated by MindGeek against WGCZ S.R.O., the parent company of XNXX.com and XVideos.com, and alleges copyright infringement, contributory copyright infringement and vicarious copyright infringement. According to the lawsuit, MindGeek—described as “among the world’s leading producers and distributors of adult-oriented content”—is asking the XVideos websites, and owners Stephane Pacaud and Deborah Pacaud, to stop and redress massive and ongoing “infringement and misappropriation of their valuable copyrighted audiovisual works.” The suit names many of MindGeek’s properties (Brazzers.com, RealityKings.com, DigitalPlayground.com and more) and Wicked Pictures as plaintiffs. The suit alleges XVideos operates as a tube site that has uploaded “tens or hundreds of thousands of works owned by plaintiffs” and distributed the content worldwide “without any license, justification or defense.” Instead, the suit alleges, XVideos claims content is uploaded by users, and invokes the safe harbors section of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, but does not fully comply with the core requirements of the safe harbors. “This case is not about whether the DMCA applies to 'tube' sites that store, publicly perform, and transmit to the public works uploaded by users,” the suit reads. “Instead, what this case seeks to address is the unlawful and unfair conduct of one particular group of websites that brazenly flouts the requirements of the DMCA by engaging in a pattern and practice of ignoring valid DMCA copyright notices and by failing to implement any serious ‘repeat infringer’ policy, thereby enabling hundreds of individuals to continually infringe without any consequence.” The suit also alleges that among the content on XVideos are several copies of MindGeek and Wicked’s work. “Indeed, during the past 18 months alone, Defendants transmitted (i.e. publicly performed) copies of the Subject Works in excess of 100 million times,” the suit reads. (Emphasis in original.) MindGeek is asking for a jury trial in the case and for $150,000 for each infringed work. The suit also asks for a restraining order as relief. In the second suit, which was filed Oct. 16 in U.S. District Court Southern District of Florida Miami Division, MindGeek is listed as the defendant and Hush Hush Entertainment as the plaintiff. In that suit, Hush Hush is claiming copyright infringement by MindGeek’s websites Pornhub.com and PornhubPremium.com, a pay site. The suit alleges MindGeek “allowed, permitted and benefitted” from adult content owned by Hush Hush that was “improperly uploaded onto Defendants’ free sites, and then transferred and controlled by Defendants to their own pay sites for all its pay members to view.” “Plaintiff discovered numerous copyrighted works on Pornhubpremium.com that were not provided by Plaintiff, and were not authorized for display on Pornhubpremium.com,” the suit reads. “Defendants transferred, directed or provided access to Plaintiff’s copyrighted video content on its pay site, and utilized them for direct financial gain, charging internet users money to view the videos in high definition, without interruption of advertising, and to download the videos.” Hush Hush is requesting $150,000 for each work infringed, as well as a restraining order. No trial date has been set in either case. These cases come just weeks after a third suit—filed by Hydentra (parent company of MetArt) against MindGeek—was dropped.  In that suit, Hydentra/MetArt claimed that "Pornhub.com has been utilized by Defendants to collect Plaintiffs’ copyrighted works and trademarks for unlawful and unauthorized display on Defendants’ new pay-only membership site Pornhubpremium.com, where Defendants charge a fee to view Plaintiffs’ works," and that "Plaintiffs discovered numerous copyrighted works on Pornhub.com that were not mere promotional materials, were not provided by Plaintiffs, and were not authorized for display on Pornhub.com." That suit was filed in federal court on Aug. 29, and dropped on Sept. 30.

 
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