Photographer Sues Leaseweb for Hosting ‘Copyright Infringing’ Sites *TorrentFreak

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Hosting provider LeaseWeb is being sued for copyright infringement in federal court in California. The lawsuit was brought by photographer Barry Rosen who claims that Leaseweb failed to take action against “infringing” display sites, despite receiving repeated notices from the DMCA. The owners of the infringing sites are unknown and listed as Doe Defendants.

With data centers in Europe, Asia and the United States, Leaseweb is a big player in the hosting space.

The company has thousands of customers of all shapes and sizes. This includes some that are labeled as pirate sites or are otherwise accused of copyright infringement.

This did not go unnoticed. Ten years ago it was revealed that Megaupload was hosting hundreds of servers at Leaseweb, and at one point Hollywood even considered taking the company to court. That plan never materialized, but the complaints didn’t go away either.

The photographer sues Leaseweb

Leaseweb is regularly labeled by rights holders as hosting suspected pirate sites and a few days ago Californian photographer Barry Rosen sued the company.

In a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Rosen accuses websites idposter.com, nposter.com, and celebposter.com of hosting his copyrighted works. These would be sold as posters and other merchandise to a global audience.

Leaseweb is added as the sole named defendant because the company provides hosting services to the sites in question.

“Plaintiff is aware and believes that the owners/operators of the websites using the domain names, idposter.com, nposter.com and celebposter.com, to which Leaseweb Defendants provide web hosting services, have/directly violate the photographs of the plaintiff,” the complaint reads.

Fake names and unsuccessful DMCA notices

The operators of the sites are unknown and listed as “Doe” defendants. Although Leaseweb has information about these customers, Rosen notes that they provided “obviously false names and addresses” to the hosting company.

There are 37 different registered images cited by Rosen but the photographer notes that he reserves the right to add up to 100 additional works to the trial. These additional images have since been deleted but the others are still online.

At the time of this writing, all of the photos we have verified are indeed still hosted on the display sites. According to the photographer, Leaseweb should have taken action after receiving repeated DMCA notices, but failed to do so.

“The respective LeaseWeb defendants hosted the images […] on their respective servers and despite receiving notices and the right and ability to easily identify and remove said violations, failed to remove them so that they continued to be publicly displayed and distributed. »

It is not uncommon for hosting companies to simply forward DMCA notices to customers, instead of taking allegedly infringing content directly offline. Whether that is what happened here is not immediately clear.

Millions in potential damage

Photographer holds Leaseweb liable for secondary copyright infringement and seeks maximum statutory damages of $150,000 per work. In theory, this means the total damage could exceed $5.5 million.

The complaint also seeks damages from the Doe defendants for direct and incidental copyright infringement. In addition, the court is asked to issue a summary order to seize all infringing works and the domain names of the sites.

Rosen is no stranger to having his work protected in court. The photographer previously sued eBay, without success. Another lawsuit against the “Heroes and Legends” auction site resulted in a default judgment of $800 in its favor.

Leaseweb has yet to respond to the allegations, but the company is also no stranger to US courts. The company has previously been sued by adult magazine publisher Perfect 10 for hosting pirate websites. Leaseweb denied the allegations and the case was eventually settled.

A copy of Barry Rosen’s complaint against Leaseweb, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, is available here (pdf)

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