Year in Review Continues: Porn Girls Win Domain Beefs; Strippers Sue Over Independent Contractor Issue

> More proof of the porn recession came when AVN Media Network Inc. announced plans to consolidate four of their six print publications into one monthly magazine. Darren Roberts, the company’s CEO stated thusly:

“Retailers, distributors, video producers, webmasters, sex toy manufacturers, lingerie designers, and other adult industry professionals can still rely on AVN to be the definitive trade publication for this diverse and robust industry. However, today’s demand to deliver value to the advertiser is greater than ever before, and AVN is in the unique position of being able to leverage its 27 year-old brand in order to significantly expand the reach of its products and services.”

Huh??!! Talk about sending the corpse to the tanning salon.

> While you watch your AVN advertising dollars going down the pissoir, take heart in the fact that Annette Schwartz finds piss to be an important part of her life.

Schwartz blogs accordingly: “I really have no idea how much piss I’ve been drinking in my life. But I am sure it’s more than all the soft-drinks and all the alcohol drinks I got within my life.

“It starts in the morning when I’m drinking my own morning urin[e] to do something good got me. It goes one over the day when I’m having sex with some guy and ask him to piss in my mouth, cause I want to experience all his tasty body fluids like sweat, spit, piss.

“I need to know how its taste, how the consistence is, which coulour it has, and how it smells. This need is extremely strong, it’s almost like it’s guiding and controlling me.

“I simply can’t live with out swallowing it or washing myself with pee! I love to gurgle it, let it drool all over me and my hair like I would take a shower. I love drinking piss like water! I just loooove piss!”

> Contract girl Stoya got booted from the Digital Playground sex corps, and there were a lot of guesses as to why. But the main one suggested it was because of the negative press generated over Marilyn Manson having shaved a swastika into her pubes.

Manson said, “I drew it on with blue eyeliner. I had to call the hotel, ‘Can I have a protractor, please?’ It was 6am. But you’ve got to line it up properly. You know?”

Manson added that his relationship with the 22-year-old was not serious and that he’s “intoxicated with loose women.” Proof of that came when he booted Stoya to the curb later in the year for another chick.

> According to an XBiz article, Lexi Love won her domain name back Domain from Cybersquatter the Dallas-based Texas International Property Associates. The WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center, which adjudicates such disputes involving domain names, ruled that Texas [International] Property Associates had no right to use LexiLove.com and infringed upon Love’s trademarked name.

As the complainant, Love filed the complaint with the Geneva, Switzerland administrative panel. Love first used the name Lexi Love on Aug. 16, 2004 and the disputed domain was registered Oct. 18, 2005 — well after Love had been an established adult performer with numerous movies to her credit.

Sole WIPO administrative panelist Christopher J. Pibus ruled that LexiLove.com is “essentially identical” to the registered Lexi Love mark even though the trademark wasn’t registered until 2008; Love had already established a common law trademark to the name.

Pibus also ruled in Love’s favor on the two other prongs she needed to prove in order to win back the domain: the cybersquatter had no rights or legitimate interest to use the name, and that the name was being used in bad faith.

> In another interesting domain name spat, Christian Dior lost to Adult Actress Kianna Dior, aka Victoria Woo. In the process, Christian Dior lost its challenge for the domain name KiannaDior.com to Woo. The company challenged Woo saying that the domain name KiannaDior.com could be found confusingly similar to ChristianDior.com. In fact, it seemed that the arbitrator was going to rule that it wasn’t confusingly similar. Here’s how the arbitrator summarized Christian Dior’s argument:

The Complainant submits that “the domain name kiannadior.com is high similar (sic) to the trademark DIOR, since the trademark is completely included in the domain name”.

The Complainant goes on to argue that: “the dominant part of the domain name KIANNADIOR.COM is DIOR which evokes the Complainant’s trademarks. The adjunction of KIANNA at the beginning of the domain name refers to a first name, like when the Complainant uses the first name and the family name CHRISTIAN DIOR, which creates a likelihood of confusion with the Complainant trademarks. Furthermore, KIANNA seems to be a female first name which refers to MISS DIOR used by the Complainant. The consumers will believe that KIANNA DIOR is a new sign of the Complainant. The letters IAN (of KIANNA) are included in the trademark CHRISTIAN DIOR”.

The arbitrator then explains why this claim isn’t necessarily the fair:

“This Panel is of the opinion that the unqualified statement that confusing similarity exists if a disputed domain name completely incorporates the relevant trademark does not, without more, prove dispositive in the present case. For example, the Complainant’s trademark DIOR could be wholly incorporated in the hypothetical domain name diorama.com, however the word “diorama” has, in English at least, an independent dictionary meaning which dispels any confusion with DIOR. The trademark NIKE is incorporated within, for example, the domain name nikethamide.com, a drug used as a respiratory stimulant. In such cases, there may very well be no confusing similarity.”

A panelist went ahead and decided it was confusingly similar, but the arbitrator made the caveat that the case could be decided on other grounds. Namely, the panelist said the respondent had rights or legitimate interests in the domain name, which is a no-brainer given its continuous use for many years.

> In her brief but illustrious porn career Paris, aka Rebecca DeFalco, worked for JM, Legend and Max Hardcore. Her next starring appearance was at a murder trial for Thanos Papalexis, a property developer who in some pillow talk with Paris [he was paying to see her three times a week] confessed to that he murdered caretaker Charalambos Christodoulides because he “was in the way and he had to go.” Papalexis was found guilty.

> The NFL Houston Texans got its jocks in a bunch when a story went out that Zero Tolerance was purportedly interested in buying ad space on their practice jerseys. The Texans? What’s the matter, Detroit Lions change their phone number? The non-story became so big it even warranted a response from the Texans:

“We were contacted from an unsolicited ad agency and upon discovering it was an adult entertainment company, we shut it down.”

> When the story broke about an industry performer having the HIV virus, Steve Hirsch was interviewed by Fox News. Hirsch recounted what happened after the 2004 HIV outbreak concerning the use of condoms in the industry: “What happened was the talent didn’t want to use condoms,” said Hirsch.

“They came to us and said repeatedly, ‘Could we have choice?’ … As a result, we decided to go condom optional. Plus we’re very comfortable with what AIM is doing with the 30-day testing.”

In 2004 AdultFYI ran an article that said: “About 200 movie producers, most of them located in the San Fernando Valley, produce thousands of adult movies a year for an industry valued at $4 billion to $13 billion. Many involve unprotected sex because, insiders say, on-screen condom use spoils the fantasy for viewers and results in lower sales.”

“It is conventional wisdom within the multibillion-dollar industry – which employs more than 6,000 people in California, including about 1,200 performers – that using a condom doesn’t pay. “It’s market forces,” said Mark Kulkis, president of Kick Ass Pictures, a production company based in downtown Los Angeles that specializes in fetish films.

“The bottom line is, customers don’t like [to see] condoms. When you see an action movie and you see the hero jumping out the window, you don’t want to see the wires holding him up,” Kulkis added “Nobody wants to see condoms. It’s a fantasy.”

“I’m against any stop in production,” added Tyler Cash, a producer with Sinamotion Pictures in Chatsworth. “It will put a lot of people out of business. You’ll have people who will start losing their apartments. It’s just not fair.”

Cash’s company, along with a few others, allow actors to use condoms during filming, although filmmakers say their use “kills the fantasy” and performers are often paid more to perform without them.

[Tony] Tedeschi, who has been in the industry for 15 years, said he did not insist on using condoms. “If I did, I wouldn’t be able to work,” he said.

And this pretty much sums things up: Actor Brandon Iron said he also welcomed Cal/OSHA’s efforts but doubted they would make a difference. “I’m not sure it’s enough of a deterrent to other companies to change the way business is done,” he said.

It is a widely held belief among producers that showing condom use in their films would hurt profits because the customers do not want to see safe sex.

> Travis [last name withheld]from North Carolina proved they do things differently in tobacco country. He had this wild fantasy of watching a guy rape his wife at knifepoint. So this creep places an ad on Craigslist for a would be rapist and finds his man. The arrangements are made and sure enough, Travis watches this guy rape his wife. Oh, did we forget to mention his wife wasn’t in on the fantasy. Travis has been charged with first-degree rape, two counts of first-degree sexual offense and attempted first-degree sexual offense.

> When it comes to wage-and-hour laws, strippers are no different from pizza delivery drivers or waitresses. That’s what plaintiffs attorney E. Michelle Drake of Minneapolis-based Nichols Kaster claimed in a wage-and-hour class action filed against a strip club in suburban Minneapolis.

The suit claimed that the King of Diamonds club was violating state and federal wage-and-hour laws by intentionally misclassifying entertainers as independent contractors and requiring them to pay fees — between $20 and $100 a night — to come to work, much as a hair salon charges a stylist for a chair.

The key difference, Drake noted, was that the stylist is considered an employee and gets a wage, whereas the dancer is forced to work only for tips and “pay for the pole.”

“The legal issues presented are very standard and weigh very strongly in my clients’ favor,” said Drake, who filed the case in federal court in Minneapolis.

“Employees cannot be required to pay their employer to go to work under federal law … and employees can’t be forced to work for only tips anymore than a waitress can.”

Drake said that case law supports her argument — that adult entertainers are not independent contractors, but hourly employees, and should be treated as such.

The Minnesota lawsuit came as a big surprise to California attorney James Quadra of San Francisco’s Moscone Emblidge & Quadra, who said he can’t understand why strip clubs haven’t yet learned their lesson about misclassifying exotic dancers. In 2007, in Doe v. Gold Club, a California state court lawsuit, secured a $3.26 million settlement on behalf of exotic dancers who sued a nightclub called the Gold Club for misclassifying them, and for requiring them to pay a stage fee to work there.

And before that case, he noted, there was plenty of case law on the books to support exotic dancers’ rights.

“I am surprised that these clubs are not becoming more careful with how they treat the dancers, because they’re clearly controlling all aspects of their work, thus making them employees,” Quadra said.

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