Designer Skin LLC v. S & L Vitamins, Inc., et al.
Adult Entertainment - Internet Library of Law and Court Decisions - Updated November 1, 2007
502 F.Supp. 2d 719, Case No. 3:07 CV 604 (N.D. Ohio, August 22, 2007)
Court holds that the Communications Decency Act (“CDA”), 47 U.S.C. Section 230, immunizes operator of online adult dating service from claims arising out of a user’s false statement in her user-profile that she was over 18. Relying on this profile, plaintiff met and had consensual sexual relations with a minor, for which he was subsequently arrested. Plaintiff brought this suit, seeking redress. Importantly, the contract between the parties expressly provided that SexSearch.com does not “assume any responsibility for verifying the accuracy of the information provided by other users of the Service.” Because plaintiff sought to hold SexSearch.com, a provider of Interactive Computer Services, liable for its publication of content authored by another, his claims, whether couched as breach of contract, fraud or negligent misrepresentation, were barred by application of the CDA. Plaintiff’s breach of contract claim similarly failed because SexSearch did not assume responsibility for verifying the age of users.
2002 U.S. Dist. Lexis 7333, CV 01-2595 LGB (C.D. Ca., April 22, 2002)
Court issues preliminary injunction against Cybernet Ventures, which operates an Age Verification Service, based on the use by web sites operated by third parties of various images in which plaintiff held the copyright, or featuring a model who had assigned her right of publicity to plaintiff.
Cybernet Ventures operates the Age Verification Service "Adult Check." Participating web sites put a script on their site which direct first time users to Cybernet, who sells them access to the Adult Check family of sites. The user is thereafter free to visit Adult Check sites for a set period of time. The fees generated by this user are paid to Cybernet, who splits them with the web site which sent the user to Cybernet. To assist the user in finding Adult Check sites to his liking, Cybernet provides both a series of links as well as a search engine. It also advertises its network.
Cybernet takes an active interest in the content of Adult Check sites, employing a staff of 12 to review the site both before it is admitted to the Adult Check family, and periodically thereafter. The content of the site is reviewed by Cybernet to prevent the inclusion of prohibited images. Cybernet also provides comment on the site's layout. The images on each site, however, are not provided by Cybernet. Instead, each site is run by a third party, who is responsible for locating the images, arranging to have the site hosted, and advertising the site.
Perfect 10, which holds the copyright in a number of images of nude women made available to the public both on its web site and in a magazine, brought this suit, charging that web sites in the Adult Check family contained over 10,000 images in which Perfect 10 held the copyright.
The court determined that Perfect 10 was likely to prevail on its claims contributory and vicarious copyright infringement against Cybernet, as well on its claims of unfair competition under Cal. Bus. and Professions Code Section 17200. The court held that Perfect 10 was likely to prevail on its contributory infringement claim because Cybernet was likely to be held to have the requisite notice of the infringing activities at issue, and to have materially contributed to this infringement by its operation of the Age Verification Service, and particular its collection of fees for, and advertising of the web sites in question.
The court further held that Perfect 10 was likely to prevail on its vicarious infringement claim, because Cybernet had the ability to control the web sites, as evidenced by the review of its content it conducted, and received a direct financial benefit from the presence on these web sites of the infringing images. Lastly, the court held that Perfect 10 was likely to prevail on its unfair competition claim, because Cybernet was likely to be held to have aided and abetted a violation of various models' right to publicity, again by virtue of its knowledge of infringement, and contributed thereto by virtue of its operation of the AVS system.
The court further held that Cybernet was unlikely to be able to avoid this liability under the safe harbor provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, because the court was likely to hold both that the DMCA policy Cybernet adopted failed to comply with the DMCA, and that Cybernet failed to reasonably implement such a policy, or terminate repeat infringers. Cybernet was also unlikely to be able to seek the protections of the DMCA because it received a financial benefit directly attributable to infringing activity it had the right and ability to control.
The court accordingly issued a preliminary injunction, which prohibited Cybernet from utilizing or linking to the images in question. The injunction further obligated Cybernet to stop linking to sites containing the images in question where Cybernet had either notice thereof, or knew or should have known of the presence of the images, under circumstances specified in the injunction. The injunction also obligated Cybernet to undertake reviews both of sites seeking to become members of the Adult Check network, and of designated existing sites, to ascertain whether they were using any of the images at issue, and to bar such new sites from entering the network without proper rights documentation. The scope of this injunction is discussed in greater depth in the accompanying "in depth" analysis of this decision.
Voyeur Dorm, L.C., Entertainment Network, Inc., Dan Marshlack and Sharon Gold Marshlack v. City of Tampa, Florida
265 F.3d 1232 (11th Cir., September 21, 2001)
Plaintiffs operate the Voyeurdorm.com web site, at which subscribers, for a price, can view the activities of five women in a house located in Tampa, Florida, including those that occur in bedrooms, bathrooms and showers. Reversing the decision of the District Court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held that plaintiffs' operation of this web site does not constitute a violation of the Tampa City Code, which prohibits the operation of an adult entertainment establishment in the residential neighborhood in which the house at which plaintiffs' filming activities took place is located.