What can Viacom attorneys learn from a gay erotica lawsuit?

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What can Viacom attorneys learn from a gay erotica lawsuit?

Wed Mar 31, 2010 @ 09:58AM PST

By Eriq Gardner

Jerk-burgundy We're sure you woke up this morning wondering if there was a gay erotica version of Viacom's $1 billion copyright case against YouTube.

There is now.

Io Group, Channel One Releasing and Liberty Media has filed a lawsuit in California against various parties, including the operators of the website jerkyoutube.com, for stealing content.

According to the complaint, filed by Gill Sperlein and THR, Esq.'s favorite lawyer Marc Randazza, the digital age hasn't been kind to the adult industry: "Wide-spread online infringement has dealt a devastating blow to the entertainment industry generally and the adult content industry specifically ... Industry outsiders with no investment and no commitment to the long-term viability of the industry skim huge amounts of unearned profits with a slash and burn approach, resulting in the shuttering of numerous small businesses."

Io alleges copyright and trademark infringement, unfair business practices, and for good measure, misappropriation of right of publicity. 

Right of publicity?

"Plaintiffs' copyrighted works embody images of performers a number of which executed written agreements through which plaintiffs became the exclusive proprietors of the actors' rights of publicity in the performances embodied in plaintiffs' creative works," says the complaint.

OK. There's a claim nobody has considered in the copyright wars. We wonder if actors in the adult industry explicitly hand over publicity rights in contracts with porn studios or whether Io is reaching here. If so, perhaps Viacom could claim YouTube was violating Jon Stewart's commercial rights to his name and image.

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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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