Settlement Reached In BelAmi Copyright Infringement Suit

PHOENIX, Ariz.—After spending nearly two months trying to locate the people it was suing, gay adult site BelAmi, owned by Baol LLC, a Delaware corporation, has settled its copyright infringement claims with Ivan Foka, owner of gay adult sites and, and has apparently dismissed its claims against defendants Does 1-10 and Doe Companies 1-10.

In fact, it was the inability to locate a geographical address for Foka and his companies that impelled BelAmi to file suit in the District of Arizona, which is the home territory of CCBill, one of Foka's payment processors, though at least one of Foka's sites was originally registered in Washington state.

According to BelAmi's complaint, filed December 20 of last year, "Defendants enjoyed direct financial benefits from unauthorized display of Plaintiff’s copyrighted content, which deprives Defendants of any safe harbor defenses under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Defendant’s website took commercial advantage of copyrighted works without any authority whatsoever and derived financial benefit from the copyrighted works. This significant commercial and financial advantage was obtained without purchasing or licensing any rights from the copyright holder or incurring the significant expense of creating and generating the content itself." The complaint also noted that none of the BelAmi content which Foka's sites had pirated were accompanied by 2257 notices, making such material liable for federal prosecution.

"On or about July 2016, an initial search of Defendant’s website revealed and documented sixteen (16) separate instances of copyright infringement of Plaintiff’s copyrighted and trademarked intellectual property," the complaint continued. "As of the date of this Complaint, these sixteen (16) instances of infringement, identified by name and registration number in the following paragraphs, were documented as being displayed and distributed on the various Defendant websites. Each of these films were displayed and distributed by Defendants and the Doe Defendants, each individually and acting in concert with each other, without the consent of, or licensing by, Plaintiff, the copyright owner and registrant of the motion picture. Plaintiff marks each film with a copyright notice and trademark in order to inform the public of Plaintiff’s ownership. Upon information and belief Defendants have altered Plaintiff’s films in that these notices and marks have been removed or obscured."

As a remedy for Foka's illegal acts, BelAmi sought "a sum sufficient to cover the cost of corrective advertising necessary to alleviate any existing or lingering confusion resulting from Defendants’ unauthorized use of Plaintiff trade dress and terms," that Foka "be ordered to account to Plaintiff for all profits, gains and advantages which they have realized as a consequence of their unauthorized use of Plaintiff trade dress and terms, as well as any confusingly similar trade dress or terms," and that Foka pay "enhanced statutory damages of $150,000 per infringement."

Trouble was, BelAmi couldn't find Foka to serve its notice of Complaint upon him and/or his companies, so finally, on February 8, BelAmi filed a Motion with the Court for an "Order Permitting Alternate Service of the Summons and Complaint on Defendants using alternate methods of service of process on this foreign defendant ... by means of email to the defendants last known valid email address." The Court approved that order the following day—and that apparently led to the settlement that was reached within the past few days, leading to a termination of the lawsuit by the Court today.

The terms of the settlement have not been disclosed by either party.