If I'm understanding this correctly, Perez Hilton, whose gossip website received nearly 4 million unique visitors on Wednesday (thanks in no small part to Brit's vagina -- his normal numbers are closer to 2-3 million), is facing TWO separate legal actions for the unlawful use of photographs.
Perez may be sued by the seven top paparazzi agencies in the United States. Perez received a cease-and-desist letter dated Nov 29, representing an unprecendented cooperation by these agencies (Splash News, INF, Ramey, Bauer Griffin, WENN, Most Wanted and Flynet), which basically tells him to account for all photographs he's run since Dec 1, 2003, pay retroactive license fees for them, and agree to pay future license fees for his images. Otherwise, he'll face a lawsuit for damages.
Paparazzi agency X17 is done sending the cease-and-desists; they're suing Perez for $7.5M in damages. Says Perez: "I have yet to be personally served with this lawsuit. My lawyers and I will address the situation when we have the opportunity to review the materials."
It's possible I'm missing something here, and these are all part of the same legal action, so please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.
But now, my thoughts:
1) The X17 people are assholes. They disabled the "Copy Image" functionality on their website awhile ago, so bloggers cannot use their images. (We can still do a Print Screen, assholes.) On the other hand, the Splash News people (who I adore) will allow anyone to use their images if you include their watermark or a link to their site.
2) Perez Hilton's an asshole. We all use copyrighted images without paying for them, but we pull images or source them upon request. Done and done. It's really very simple. But Perez is an asshole from any angle. He has an endearing manner of using a very sophisticated graphics software (Microsoft Paint) to draw lovely representations of what one must assume is semen and cocaine on the faces of ALL the photos he uses (except when they star him), so they're essentially unusable by those of us who choose to maintain some manner of maturity and decorum on our sites (yeah, I just implied we maintain maturity and decorum around here, so suck it).
3) This is kind of the end of a Golden Era for bloggers. As much as I wouldn't mind seeing Perez knocked a few rungs down off his smug little celeb-outting perch, when he (inevitably) loses these suits, it may be just a matter of time before these agencies track down the rest of us and demand we pay license fees. And then gossip blogs will suck and it will be much harder to find Britney's vagina on the Internet at any given point in time (kudos to those of you who thought to use the Google cache when this site was 502ing...and there were lots of you who did).
It'll be interesting to see how this plays out.