Corbin Fisher Sues eBay Sellers for Content Piracy

SAN DIEGO, Calif.Liberty Media Holdings LLC, the parent company of gay adult studio Corbin Fisher, has filed a federal lawsuit claiming as many as 51 eBay sellers are engaged in a widespread counterfeit DVD distribution enterprise. Named so far in the suit are David Trice of Dallas and Eric Brown of Pittsburgh. Other individuals may replace “Does 2-50” as the company’s investigation into the eBay marketplace continues.

“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,” said LMH General Counsel Marc J. Randazza. “Once we had enough evidence on them, we filed our lawsuit. We’ve heard from one defendant already, who seemed pretty distraught.”

The lawsuit, filed Dec. 3 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, seeks millions of dollars in damages. Each instance of copyright infringement carries statutory penalties of between $750 and $150,000 per count. Corbin Fisher brought 66 counts against Trice and 70 counts against Brown. The suit seeks $10,000,000 in damages against each defendant and will seek similar amounts from each of the other defendants once they are identified, Randazza said.

In addition, LMH seeks legal and attorney fees and injunctive relief.

The subterfuge was discovered by an LMH employee who uses eBay, according to the complaint. Posing as a run-of-the-mill eBay buyer, the employee purchased DVDs from Trice, Brown and the Does and received not only pirated content, but also incriminating email correspondence.

According to documents filed with the court, “Trice purchased a monthly membership to LMH’s website, used that membership to download the plaintiff’s movies, and now he manufactures DVDs of those movies and then sells those DVDs to the public. Brown purchased one of Trice’s pirated DVDs and has further duplicated these pirated DVDs and sells them to the public as well.”

Trice does business on eBay as “adt4229.” Brown’s eBay user ID is “e-man3700.”

One of the Doe defendants is accused of conspiracy in the enterprise.

“John Doe 2 is a co-conspirator of defendant Brown,” court documents allege. “In an email to one of plaintiff’s employees, Brown stated that he would not be burning the DVDs as ‘I had a problem with my computer burning software, but I had a friend burn them for me over the weekend.’”

The eBay ads were incriminating enough alone, according to the lawsuit.

“Defendant Trice placed advertisements on eBay stating that he would, for a fee, join the Corbin Fisher website on his customer’s behalf, download videos at his customer’s request, and then transfer these videos to a DVD for the customer. In describing his operation in this manner, Defendant Trice attempted to make it seem as if he were joining the Corbin Fisher website on a one-membership-for-every-one-eBay-sale ratio, and not merely purchasing a single membership and then creating dozens of pirated DVDs.

“Defendant Trice has sold more DVDs to more people than he has purchased Corbin Fisher memberships. While Defendant Trice’s subterfuge (as expressed on his eBay advertisements) does not excuse his violations of LMH’s rights, it does demonstrate that defendant Trice is aware that LMH’s works are protected by copyright and trademark law and demonstrates that defendant Trice is aware that unauthorized duplication and distribution of LMH’s works is illegal.

“Brown’s eBay advertisements read, ‘Goto [sic] for a free preview of the website and episode guide for full description & photos of each episode,” court documents note. “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.’”

Corbin Fisher and its parent company have taken a strong stance against piracy recently, Randazza noted. The new lawsuit followed several court in which Corbin Fisher collected sizeable judgments from various intellectual property infringers, including the tube site DudeVu, which went offline after Corbin Fisher took legal action against it.

“While we are targeting a lot of intellectual property thieves, most of them are online,” said Corbin Fisher Chief Operating Officer Brian Dunlap. “This is old-school counterfeit DVD production.”

Dunlap also said no content pirate is too small to attract the studio’s attention.

“We aren’t just going after the big guys,” 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.”

While going after individual purchasers of stolen content might seem draconian, Randazza was not apologetic.

“This company supports 50-plus families, and when you steal Corbin Fisher content, you’re stealing from my family and the families of all of my co-workers,” he avowed. “I take that personally, and I won’t let someone off just because they whimper and cry that they don’t have any money. You did the crime, you pay — no exceptions. Take out a loan to pay me, but you’re paying me.”

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