General Counsel for Adult Site Liberty Media Files Federal Piracy Lawsuit Against eBay Sellers

from – One general counsel’s legal campaign to fight piracy and trademark violators in the adult entertainment industry is underway in federal court.

Marc Randazza, [pictured] general counsel for San Diego-based adult entertainment company Liberty Media Holdings, has filed a federal lawsuit in California against 51 eBay sellers who allegedly engaged in a counterfeit DVD distribution enterprise.

The suit, filed Dec. 3 in the Southern District of California, seeks $10 million in damages from two primary defendants, and also lists “John Doe” defendants who may have bought the pirated DVDs. It claims that the defendants illegally copied hundreds, maybe thousands, of movies from a Web site owned by Liberty Media, and then sold them on eBay. Each instance of copyright infringement carries penalties of between $750 and $150,000 per count.

A Liberty Media employee who uses eBay discovered the scheme, according to the complaint. Posing as a buyer, the employee bought the pirated DVDs, and got some incriminating e-mail correspondence in the process, the complaint says.

The suit is just the latest effort in the company’s ongoing assault against online piracy in the adult entertainment business. In July, it hired Randazza specifically to go after content stealers and trademark violators. “And that’s pretty much what I’ve been doing since I came on board,” Randazza said. “Hunting down pirates and extracting settlements from them.”

Randazza said he’s negotiated at least five settlements with various companies and individuals since he was hired. In October, the company resolved a copyright infringement dispute with a mobile phone content provider for an undisclosed amount—and another tube site went offline after Liberty Media took legal action against it.

Liberty Media has also joined forces with other adult entertainment providers to share information and resources in an effort to fight content theft, including Io Group Inc.

“If we stamped out piracy of our material all together, it would raise our profits,” Randazza said. “But it’s kind of like squashing a balloon. The piracy market would go elsewhere. So I think we’re going to see more intra-industry cooperation as we start to realize we are all in this together.”

Gill Sperlein, general counsel of Io Group, agrees. He says with a few exceptions, most adult entertainment companies, which tend to be small, independent operations, don’t have the time or resources to stop or even slow down piracy on their own. The problem has become too big and pervasive.

Meanwhile, declining revenues during the economic recession have made finding and fighting piracy a top priority. DVD sales are down 30 to 40 percent, Sperlein estimated. “People are really hurting,” he said.

Earlier story from an XBiz press release: SAN DIEGO — Gay adult studio Corbin Fisher has filed a federal lawsuit against several individuals involved in an alleged counterfeit DVD distribution enterprise that used eBay.

The lawsuit follows a Corbin Fisher investigation, where company officials ordered DVDs on eBay using PayPal and personal checks.

Corbin Fisher said in the suit that defendants illegally manufactured hundreds, if not thousands, of counterfeit DVDs of no less than 136 Corbin Fisher videos altogether.

“We got a tip about our content being sold on eBay and engaged in some good old-fashioned detective work to track down the culprits,” Marc Randazza, Corbin Fisher’s general counsel, told XBIZ. “Once we had enough evidence on them, we filed our lawsuit.

“We’ve heard from one defendant already, who seemed pretty distraught.”

The suit seeks $10 million each from primary defendants David Trice of Dallas and Eric Brown of Pittsburgh. The complaint also lists John Doe defendants who may have purchased the pirated goods.

Corbin Fisher brought 66 counts against Trice and 70 counts against Brown.

The suit said that Brown used Trice’s bootleg DVDs as master copies to manufacture and sell his own bootleg “Corbin Fisher DVDs.”

Corbin Fisher noted in the suit that some of the eBay ads were so brazen that they directed potential customers to the website.

According to the complaint, filed at U.S. District Court in San Diego, one of the eBay ad listings said:

“Goto (sic) for a free preview of the website and episode guide for full description & photos of each episode. Also for free, explore photos of the guys on their Model Pages. The episode names I use match the ones on the website…. I’m burning a set to sell. The DVDs will be plain and ship in a clear plastic case.”

Brian Dunlap, COO of Corbin Fisher, said he was surprised of the alleged counterfeiting and peddling over eBay because most property thieves operate online these days. “This is old school counterfeit DVD production,” he said.

“We are going after each and every person who even bought a DVD from one of these guys. We are certain that as the case goes on, we will identify each and every one of them.”

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