Perez Hilton Hates Sharing the Spotlight
It seems that even bloggers who routinely skirt the Digital Millenium Copyright Act have a place in their hearts for intellectual property rights. Mario Lavandeira, the founder and host of Perezhilton.com is suing Elizabeth Silver-Fagan, the founder and host of Perezrevenge.com, for "cybersquatting and deceptive trade practices," according to Joseph Menn at the Los Angeles Times.
While there may be some small, innocuous truth to the deception claim (both sites ooze hot pink graphics), Perezrevenge.com isn't cybersquatting on Perezhilton.com. From Nolo:
Cybersquatting means registering, selling or using a domain name with the intent of profiting from the goodwill of someone else's trademark. It generally refers to the practice of buying up domain names that use the names of existing businesses with the intent to sell the names for a profit to those businesses.
The folks at Perezrevenge.com seem to be using their space, rather than holding it for ransom. They also have a slightly different business model, in that they steal photos, report celebrity journalism, and attack Lavandaeira's site, rather than just steal photos and draw semen on them. And by attacking Lavandeira's site, they're supplementing—not replacing—his product, and possibly even driving traffic his way.
Regardless, Lavandeira claims the following in his suit (full pdf):
[The] Defendants deceive the public and create the impression that www.perezrevenge.com emanates from, originates from, is associated with and/or is otherwise endorsed by Lavandeira which results in lost sales and severe damage to Lavandeira's reputation and goodwill.
Damage to his reputation and goodwill? The semen guy? The one with the blue/blond/strawberry hair? Seriously? Lavandeira doesn't have an ethical leg to stand on. His job entails pirating other people's work and then begging them not to sue him. His copyright page says as much:
All images on perezhilton.com are readily available in various places on the Internet and believed to be in public domain. Images posted are believed to be posted within our rights according to the U.S. Copyright Fair Use Act. [Emphasis added]
Where, then, does Lavandeira get off suing someone for doing to his work what he does to the works of hundreds of celebrity photographers? I wouldn't be surprised if it came out that this was a way for Lavandeira to boost traffic to his site ("Perez Hilton Admits Lawsuit Attempt Slutty and Silly"). Publicity stunt or no, I'm crossing my fingers that his attempt at abusing the court system to stifle a competitor comes back and bites him in the ass, much as it did Violet Blue when Boing Boing secretly took down all her guest posts and links after the supposedly anti-DMCA Blue sued an up and coming porn star for "stealing" her totally original name.