BACKGROUND: Malibu Media, LLC is a copyright holder who has sued internet users for the download of their adult films under the “X-Art” brand name. In the lawsuits they file, they may sue for the download of one title (asking $150,000 statutory damages for that one title), but then they claim in an addendum that the defendant also downloaded multiple “copyrighted” titles, listing a bunch of other videos that were also downloaded.
When settling claims against that defendant, Malibu attorneys ask for settlement FOR EACH AND EVERY ONE OF THOSE ACCUSED DOWNLOADS (and not for just the one title claimed in the lawsuit). So instead of asking for a settlement of $1,000 for one title, they will ask for a settlement of $35,000 for 35 titles allegedly downloaded.
[HINDSIGHT: THEY WERE FAKING THE PUBLICATION DATES.]
NOTE: BEFORE READING THIS ARTICLE: If you have not already done so, and you are implicated as a John Doe in a Malibu Media, LLC lawsuit, read these first:
1) “Everything You Need To Know in One Page About Your Malibu Media, LLC (X-Art) Lawsuit [FAQ]”
2) “In-Depth Malibu Media. Their Lawsuits, Their Strategies, and Their Settlements”
FOR IMMEDIATE CONTACT AN ATTORNEY: To set up a free consultation to speak to an attorney about your Malibu Media, LLC lawsuit, click here. Lastly, please feel free to e-mail me at info [at] cashmanlawfirm.com, or call 713-364-3476 to speak to me now about your case (I do prefer you read the articles first), or to get your questions answered.
How Malibu Media, LLC is claiming infringements for unpublished films.
The problem is that of the 35 titles allegedly downloaded, many of them weren’t copyrighted at the time the download took place. Malibu Media, LLC gets around this requirement by stating that since the copyrighted adult film was “published” on their website, thus they have three-months to file the copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office in order to get copyright rights in that video.
Thus, Malibu Media is claiming copyright protection for videos that are not copyrighted at the time they were downloaded. Their logic is that their file was deserving of copyright protection retroactively, BEFORE THEY FILED FOR A COPYRIGHT WITH THE U.S. COPYRIGHT OFFICE, because the video was properly “published” on their website (plain meaning of the word is “posted” on their site), and filed with the copyright office within the three-month statutory period.
Malibu Media Leaks Videos on the Internet?
Not relevant to this discussion (but equally interesting) is the fact that the file somehow “leaks” from their website onto the bittorrent networks to be downloaded by the internet users who then download large .zip or .rar files containing sometimes 100+ Malibu Media videos (or one .torrent file containing multiple video files). These internet users are then sued in the federal courts for copyright infringement in what are known as the “Malibu Media LLC v. John Doe” lawsuits.
Malibu Media fakes the copyright law’s “publication” requirement.
NEW MATERIAL (THIS IS THE ACTUAL ARTICLE):
Malibu Media, LLC has formed a habit of suing defendants for downloads that appear on the bittorrent networks literally a day or so after they are supposedly “published” on their website. The videos themselves are not copyrighted often for another three-months.
When questioned about this tactic, they claim that their activities are legitimate because U.S. copyright law (17 U.S.C. § 412) gives a content creator up to three months after “publication” to file their copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office. They are correct about this three-month rule.
Malibu Media’s Publication Scam
The scam is that Malibu Media, LLC is basing their “right” to solicit settlements for MANY videos because they “PUBLISHED” each video [according to the plain definition of the word] on their website before it was downloaded by the John Doe defendant. Thus, they claim that their copyright rights existed in each of the videos at the time the videos were downloaded, even though 1) the downloader couldn’t find the video as being copyrighted when searching the US Copyright Office’s copyright registry, and 2) even though the copyright was not yet filed for when the download took place. Thus, they can ask for settlements for each and every video because they all were deserving of copyright protection retroactively at the time the downloads happened BECAUSE that video was “published” prior to being downloaded.
Why I believe Malibu Media is not properly satisfying the ‘publication’ requirement.
I am convinced that their stated “publication” is really no publication at all. It’s a scam to make the accused downloader think that Malibu Media, LLC has copyright rights over ALL of the videos they claim in their “list” of infringed videos, including even those videos that were “published” just a day or so before they appeared on the bittorrent websites.
Why do I think that Malibu Media is faking the “publication” requirement in their lawsuits? Because according to the statutory definition of “Publication,” posting a new porn video onto their website is more of a “public performance,” and that does not satisfy the requirement for “publication.” (see, 17 U.S. Code § 101 – Definitions).
Here is the text of the statute:
“Publication” is the distribution of copies or phonorecords of a work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending. The offering to distribute copies or phonorecords to a group of persons for purposes of further distribution, public performance, or public display, constitutes publication. A public performance or display of a work does not of itself constitute publication.
LEGAL DEFINITIONS of terms often do not correspond to the PLAIN MEANING of those terms.
Remember, in law, words do not always mean what they do according to the plain meaning of the word. Tongue-in-cheek, stating, “I did not sleep with that woman” might be telling the literal truth, even if you had sexual intercourse with her. The understanding to pull from this example is that the legal definition of “sleep” might be very different from the plain meaning of the term.
In the context of the Malibu Media, LLC lawsuits, it is not enough for a lawyer to look up the definition of “Publication” (defined above) in the statute and decide according to the plain meaning of the written definition whether publication is or is not taking place. (By the way, looking up the definition of a word is a very good start, and is something that is often NOT done! But the investigation of “the law” should not end there.)
To properly explain the term in the context of bitttorrent lawsuits, the terms “publication,” “to the public,” “distribution,” “public performance,” “public display,” etc. also have to be defined within their context. How? In addition to the plain meaning of the term, each term in the legal world has specific LEGAL DEFINITIONS which change as case law interprets them in the context of various situations (and if there is no case law, it is the job of the lawyer to carve out that changed definition for each particular context where justice sees it fit to do so). These definitions can often be different, or even opposite to the plain meaning of the term. Again, the “legal definition” of a term is often not the same as the “plain meaning” of that same term.
Summary: There may be a legal argument that “publication” is not actually happening for Malibu Media, LLC’s videos.
In sum, I suspect that there is a legal argument that “publication” is not actually happening with the Malibu Media, LLC lawsuits (even moreso if they are found to be leaking their videos onto the bittorrent networks prior to their release, as is described in Sophisticated Jane Doe’s article, reblogged below). While I have not hashed this out yet completely, I have been working on this theory for some time now, and I believe it may be a viable argument. However, for those attorneys who troll this blog and will immediately jump on me saying “of course it is published,” step out of your box containing only plain meaning definitions, and come over to my side of the room. The view is a bit better here.
I am merely mentioning this issue as food for thought. Anyone who wants to contribute to this legal argument, I’m more than willing to hash this out. And of course, read SJD’s article because it demonstrates the publication issue very nicely.
What else can you tell me about the Malibu Media cases?
[2017 UPDATE] The best way to learn about Malibu Media, LLC is to read what happened to them as it happened. The list of stories below (in the order I listed them) tell the Malibu Media story in a way that you will understand them.
- “Malibu Media, LLC almost went out of business in April, 2016,” on 12/21/2016
- “Many Malibu Media, LLC lawyers defected; some lawyers remained,” on 3/13/2017
- “Which Lipscomb attorneys stayed with Malibu Media, LLC?” on 3/13/2017
- “Malibu Media, LLC stops filing copyrights, but they continue filming porn videos… why?,” on 5/10/2017
- “Malibu Media, LLC cases are currently facing hard scrutiny in California.” on 12/23/2016
- “Judge forces Malibu Media to reveal the accuracy of their geolocation technology,” on 5/10/2017
- “Malibu targets the wealthy in their geolocation tracking.” on 6/4/2013
- [THIS ARTICLE] “Why I think Malibu Media is ‘faking’ the ‘publication’ requirement to prove copyright infringement,” on 2/9/2016
- “Confirmed: Malibu Media invests $400 filing fees @$20K/month” on 3/13/2017
- – “(and how I initially figured out they were on a $20K/mo filing fee budget),” on 12/23/2016
- “What are the X-Art adult movies Malibu Media owns? (NSFW),” on 5/5/2017
- “How the Cashman Law Firm, PLLC tracks Malibu’s movements,” on 5/4/2017
- “How certain defense attorneys are trying to profit from Malibu’s cases (unethically), ” on 3/29/2017
- “Is Malibu Media’s Settlement Extortion Scheme Profitable?,” on 12/22/2016
- “The ‘Bellwether’ Trial – The ONLY Malibu Media, LLC case to EVER go to trial,” on 6/12/2013
- “When Malibu First Started Suing ONE John Doe Defendant per Case,” on 3/7/2013
- “My First Opinion of the Malibu Media, LLC cases,” on 3/6/2012
FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT MALIBU MEDIA, LLC:Again, if you have been implicated as a John Doe defendant in a Malibu Media, LLC lawsuit, there are TWO (2) main articles you should read immediately:
1) “Everything You Need To Know in One Page About Your Malibu Media, LLC (X-Art) Lawsuit [FAQ],” and then
2) “In-Depth Malibu Media. Their Lawsuits, Their Strategies, and Their Settlements.”
FOR IMMEDIATE CONTACT WITH AN ATTORNEY: To set up a free consultation to speak to an attorney about your Malibu Media, LLC lawsuit, click here. Lastly, please feel free to e-mail me at info[at] cashmanlawfirm.com, or call 713-364-3476 to speak to me now about your case (I do prefer you read the articles first), or to get your questions answered.
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1 thought on “Is Malibu “faking” the publication requirement in lawsuits?”
By the way, the fact that there is a distinction between the plain meaning of a word and the legal definition of a word (or how that word has evolved over time based on its interpretation by the courts) legitimately infuriates people. That laws are not interpreted according to their plain meaning is often why people hate lawyers. A law should be interpreted according to its plain meaning, and if a judge decides that the law itself is not valid, the statute should be invalidated and the statute itself should be rewritten (obviously by the legislature, and not the judge). Reinterpretations of terms to deviate away from their plain meaning is a horrible legal practice and needs to stop.