Anatomy of an Oscar winner's sex tape lawsuit

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Anatomy of an Oscar winner's sex tape lawsuit

Wed Aug 05, 2009 @ 12:21PM PST

By Eriq Gardner

Dustin Lance Black Wins A few weeks ago, Perez Hilton created a stir when he posted naked photographs of Dustin Lance Black, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of "Milk."

Hilton got the photos from the agency Starzlife, but after hearing cries that he betrayed the gay rights community by posting the photos, he took them down, but admonished celebrities, "NEVER make a sex tape, unless you're ready for it to leak! Cuz it will happen."

Now Black is fighting back with a lawsuit against Starzlife and others for invasion of privacy, infringement and violation of his publicity rights.

Here's a copy of the complaint.

Perez Hilton is not a defendant in this lawsuit. He escapes the legal wrath of Black's lawyer, Martin Singer.

But contrary to Hilton's condescending note, Black claims he had no knowledge that his intimate acts were captured on film. Instead, Black says he posed with his boyfriend at the time thinking he would be photographed from the upper torso up. 

Others can decide whether this is believable or not, but it may not make much of a difference as far as the merits of the legal claim. Black says that co-defendant Michael Lawrence (a used car company operator and aspiring body builder) gained access to the photos by breaking into his ex-boyfriend's computer. Lawrence then is alleged to have teamed up with co-defendant Thomas Conrad Folks to cash-in on the photos, including setting up a shell corporation to hide their identities and selling the photos to Starzlife with claims of copyright ownership.

Starzlife then gave the photos to Perez Hilton (aka Mario Lavandeira) and, according to the complaint, Hilton "displayed, disseminated, and exploited certain of the Photos, all without ever having been provided with or seen any purported copyright assignment."

And that's how nude photos of celebrities get leaked these days. We suppose the lesson here is never post a sex tape of a celebrity, unless you're ready for a lawsuit, because it will happen.

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The Hollywood Reporter
The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to Matthew.Belloni@thr.com

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