Perez Hilton (a.k.a. Mario Lavandeira), celebrity gossip and popular blogger, is no stranger to lawsuits. Already in 2008, he has successfully defended a libel suit, settled a misappropriation case brought by a paparazzi agency, and most recently, sued a fellow blogger for slander. However, it is his strategy outside the courtroom concerning an infringement suit filed last fall that has brought to light the precarious relationship between the self-titled “Queen of All Media” and his subjects.

Perez Hilton

During a period of three months in the fall of 2007, Hilton posted streaming music that turned out to be leaked tracks from an unreleased Britney Spears album. Hilton stated later that not only had the leaked songs appeared on many other websites, but that it was widely speculated that the tracks were fakes. Moreover, he says that he always complies with RIAA takedown requests, and was never contacted by Sony concerning the music posts.

The complaint, filed on October 4, 2007 by Zomba Recording, a Sony/BMG label, alleged unlawful copying and public dissemination and stated claims for copyright infringement for each individual song. The suit is ongoing, but Hilton recently decided to strike back at Sony in his own way. A recent post concerning successful new artist Leona Lewis explained why he will not be blogging any more about her, or any other artist on Sony/BMG-owned labels, any time soon:

It really, truly pains us not to talk about them. But, it is something we HAVE to do. Why???? Because Zomba, which is owned by Sony BMG, is suing us and we had a lightbulb go off recently: we can’t support any artist signed to Sony BMG… Sony BMG may win this battle, but at the end of the day we will be the ones laughing. We KNOW that our support can help their artists, some of our favorites, immensely. We hope alienating us was worth it for Sony BMG!

According to Newsweek, Hilton’s webpage has 105 million page views each month. Though he is perhaps best known for doodling on photographs of celebrities, he also uses the website to talk about his favorite musicians. Given the recent rise in popularity of online marketing using sites such as MySpace, it isn’t surprising that record labels have taken notice of Hilton’s site. In fact, Hilton is currently in negotiations with Warner Brothers Records for his own imprint. This deal would be something of a coup for bloggers like Hilton—recognition of the influence that they can wield, especially in the world of music.

So this begs the question: who is better off now, Sony or Warner Brothers? Sony obviously has every right to vigorously protect their copyrights, but at what cost? The company would be hard-pressed to argue that the streaming music had much of a negative impact on potential sales, as it was not downloadable; meanwhile, how many of the 2.8 million monthly visitors to perezhilton.com might have purchased a Leona Lewis album on his recommendation? In a larger context, as blogger’s rights continue to be a hotly-contested issue and defamation as well as infringement suits are flying left and right, the companies involved may want to stop and consider the risk of chilling effects. After all, if you were a popular blogger and trying to decide whether to write about Product A or Product B–one of which happens to be owned by a company with a habit of filing lawsuits against people just like you–which one would you be likely to choose?

- Casey Fiesler

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2 Responses to Off With Their Heads! The Queen of all Media Retaliates for Infringement Suit

  1. M. Dean Hajas says:

    SLAVE4 TRUTH
    B. SPEARS ALONG WITH SONY BMG ZOMBA FILE SUITE AGAINST PEREZ HILTON. THE FACTS ARE THAT ROBERT JOHN “MUTT” LANGE WAS THE PRINCIPLE OWNER OF ZOMBA WHEN HE PRODUCED B. SPEARS. HER ALLEGED OWNERSHIP OF SLAVE 4 U IS PRE-DATED BY MICHAEL DEAN HAJAS OF ONE SKY PUBLISHING.
    COMMUNICATION WITH BRUCE SCAVUZZO ADMITTS TO “A LIKENESS OF CREATION BY MICHAEL DEAN HAJAS” (APRIL 2006).
    SUBSEQUENTLY ERIC LEVINE WAS FIRED POST OF DIVULDGING BRUCE SCAVUZZO’S PERONAL CONTACT INFORMATION.
    FINALLY MICHAEL DEAN HAJAS PUBLICLY PROCLAIMS COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT BY
    SONY BMG ZOMBA JIVE RECORDS,
    ROBERT JOHN “MUTT” LANGE, B.SPEARS,MATT HAYWOOD,DAVE AUDE,AND THE NEPTUNES WITH THEIR IMMEDIATE ASSOCIATE REPRESENTAIVES.

    Shania & Mutt: What’s At Stake
    Shania Thanks Fans for Support
    Shania Twain Speaks Up After Split
    Shania’s Mutt May Have Strayed

    Comments

    deanoz said…
    Aug-11-08 11:41am
    SLAVE 4 TRUTH

    Robert John “Mutt” Lang and Matt Haywood (formerly of HHO Publishing) together with B. Spears SONY ZOMBA BMG stole my SOCAN registery pre dating liner note suggestion.

    DDLR: So what’s the angle on your Dave Lee Roth scam? Does it not just make you look dumb?

    Dean Hajas: The angle on the DLR story is that the OPP released the story to CTV as though it were fact. CTV ran the story without talking to me to verify the validity of the claim. When the media finally realized it had mad a blunder, it then tried to pin the story on any donkey in the area. I chose to run with the story, thinking “what the hell” if people want to believe DLR was staying at my house in Oakland Ontario, let them. It was fun, interesting, controversial, and entertaining.
    DLR camp can’t thank us enough.! And we’ve been on Howard Stern now and Radio one in Detroit.

    Not bad for a rumor

    DDLR: Ah ok thanks for answering. I should have said in my original email that the reason I asked was as a webmaster at the main Roth fan site I saw through it pretty early and found the whole thing odd. Did you ever meet the weird impersonator guy?

    Dean Hajas: The impersonator guy? It gets a little darker around the edges when you mention DLR and DPA together in the same sentence. There is a gag order with regards to these two. Remember the Police released the info as GOSPEL and CTV followed. I could get into financial trouble for giving anymore info as of yet.

    DDLR: Are you the same guy claiming a copyright thing with Britney Spears, is that a scam too?

    Dean Hajas: With regards to B. Spears. The absolute truth! I met with Matt Haywood of HHO Publishing in Oct. of 2001 in England. Matt originates from South Africa as does Robert John “Mutt” Lang. They both show up in the UK in the early 70’s. Matt started Expansion records and Mutt Zomba. I went over to England to visit a son of mine during the 911 event and took my song roster with me. I down loaded a UK music directory and circled two companies HHO Publishing and Zomba. I met with reps from both companies and was advised that Matt Haywood wanted to be my UK representative. Matt left HHO Publishing as the disgruntled employee and left with an undisclosed amount of intellectual properties. I returned to Canada producing Jazz and Country and Native flut music. I was at Future shop Christmas of 2005 and that’s when I heard my melody. I don’t lay claim to the lyrical content of Slave 4 You, however Zomba and its affiliate members and representatives didn’t change a thing about my creation. I have the SOCAN registry of my creation which also predates B.Spears claim of ownership in her liner notes as “previously unreleased original by B. Spears”. B. Spears has 6 A & R representatives combing the Globe for potential hits, and they suck the life force out of creation. Wade Leak of SONY BMG is the legal counsel for this matter and is trying to use “statutory of limitations” regarding the ownership of the said creation. Our contention with this, the writer of Stairway to Heaven wrote the hit in 1972 and renumeration didn’t take place until 1993. Our plan is to win in two other zones (Countries) other than the USA, thereby forcing the USA to reopen this record smashing copyright infringement. When I realized that the Media was Knee deep in this story, I took full advantage of the situation to draw attention to the real story behing the DLR supposed sighting. Sorry for any hurt feelings, to DLR fans, however I hope you can appreciate the run around that I have been getting from Eric Levine, Bruce Scavuzzo, Dave Schmidt and Wade Leak to name a few. Our country has contention with the library of Congress in Washington D.C. It seems in 1864 Alexander Graham Bell claims to have invented the telephone. For over a hundred years our media and schools have reported this as truth. I later find out that Alexander Graham Bell promised Western Union 10% of earnings to remove Antonio Maouchi (sp?) from being recognized as the patent pending owner and holder. If the Library of Congress can allow such a blunder when it comes to something as revolutionarey as the telephone, then how can the FBI and USA stand behind its copyright laws as enforceable, authentic and transparent to other would be artisans, inventors and musicians alike?

    Hope this helps you out Sesh.

    M. Dean Hajas

  2. [...] senior board members have made the first round of posts, and I wrote about Perez Hilton’s latest legal skirmish. Because of the lawsuit against him for posting the leaked Britney Spears tunes (streaming) on his [...]