In this post from “The Blog Herald,” Jonathan Bailey proclaims that the X17, Inc. vs. Perez Hilton case has the “potential to drastically impact bloggers and small webmasters." Bailey cites the copyright cases against Hilton, including the Universal Studios suit involving a topless photograph of Jennifer Aniston. In discussing the X17 case, he purports that the blogger and the photograph agency were at a stalemate, as Hilton’s motion to dismiss the suit was denied, but he was allowed to “keep his site online while the lawsuit was pending.” However, Hilton’s site temporarily went down when Crucial Paradigm, his Australian web host, blocked Hilton’s access “due to the volume of copyright complaints,” and subsequently, he moved his site to the Voxel Dot Net server. The blog post discusses a separate lawsuit filed by Hilton against the photograph agency, an obvious vindictive move, “citing what [Hilton] called unfair competition.” Hilton argues that X17 “does not pay its photographers properly” and “hires illegal immigrants” to maintain low costs. In discussing “what was at stake,” Bailey asserts that the decision could establish guidelines for using others photographs on the Internet, especially in regard to published versus unpublished works. He believes that if the ruling is broad enough, the decision could “impact the Youtube crowd, many of whom take copyrighted works and make humorous modifications to the video, and it could impact link blogging services that republish articles, such as Google Reader’s “Share” feature.”
For the purposes of my paper, this blog post introduces information not contained in the legal documents filed in court. The fact that Hilton’s server terminated his service is representative of the highly contentious nature of the X17 lawsuit. Although the case only involves one individual, Hilton seems to be at the forefront of the blog world; therefore, the outcome of this case may have broad implications for the whole cyber world. The decision of the lawsuit may elucidate what constitutes a parody in regard to photographs. Small alterations to the photographs, in the form of doodles, may be deemed a satire, rather than a parody, by a court of law, thereby making it harder for Hilton to claim fair use. Additionally, the “unfair competition” lawsuit referenced in the blog post may reveal Hilton’s desire to retaliate against X17. He obviously lacks standing in a lawsuit filed that alleges that X17 exploits its photographers, some with “criminal backgrounds and gang affiliations.” The lawsuit is clearly a public attack aimed at damaging X17’s reputation. Finally, this blog is the first source to reference Hilton’s procedure for a takedown request. The existence of this procedure on his website seems backwards, as Hilton is attempting to secure DMCA protection for himself. However, Section 512 of American copyright law grants protection from monetary damages if “the transmission of the material was initiated by or at the direction of a person other than the service provider.” In this case, however, Hilton himself is posting the copyrighted pictures on his website, not an third-party user, so he affords himself no DMCA protection.