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Girls Gone Wild to Cough Up $1.1 M

WASHINGTON — The marketers of the sexually explicit “Girls Gone Wild” videos and DVDs agreed Friday to pay nearly $1.1 million to settle government claims that the company shipped unordered products and then charged customers.

As part of the settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, California-based Mantra Films Inc. will pay more than $548,000 to people who received the videos or DVDs and returned them but did not get a refund for shipping costs.

The FTC said about 84,000 customers would receive refunds of at least $5.

Mantra also will pay a civil penalty of more than $541,000. The videos and DVDs feature young women at college campuses or spring break trips who bare their breasts and perform sexually suggestive acts. Millions of copies have been sold.

Mantra attorney Bill Heberer said his client was happy to put the settlement behind them and move forward. “All along, Mantra was dedicated to marketing their product in a good way, and it’s a product that consumers want,” Heberer said.

The FTC alleged that Mantra enrolled customers who responded to Internet and TV advertising for a single video or DVD in a “continuity” program. Once customers were enrolled, they received additional, unordered videos, and weren’t given an effective means to cancel the program. Customers’ checking accounts were debited without their consent, the FTC said.

The settlement requires Mantra to get customers’ consent before billing them for products. The company also must clearly disclose terms of its membership in its “continuity” programs.

The “Girls Gone Wild” series has been the target of other lawsuits, including one by a 17-year-old girl who flashed her breasts to a cameraman. The girl argued, unsuccessfully, that the film, its creators, producers and distributors had violated her right to privacy and had cast her in a false light by including her in the “Sexy Sorority Sisters” video.

 

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