Pirated DVD porn dispute: $1.1 million settlement

DVD porn pirates sign a settlement with Adult Industry Association worth $1.1 million.

The Adult Industry Association (AICO) has signed settlements worth over $1 million to its members in its piracy actions against Prestige Club Australasia (PCA) and Venus Adult Shops (Venus).

The two year dispute relating to the distribution of adult entertainment DVDs and the breach of AICO members’ copyright has been settled with cash payments of $500,000 by the online DVD distributor PCA and $600,000 by the adult shop chain Venus. Additionally, the directors of both PCA and Venus were required to make a full and frank admission and guarantees of their own personal liability.

According to Graeme Dunne, AICO's executive officer, the association launched the case in the courts back in October 2006, and the respondents were set to go to trial in late October 2008 in the Federal Court of Sydney.

“There were many delays [in the proceedings] which were frustrating for us and our members,” Dunne said. “It was a very difficult case. We saw three different judges appointed to hear the case in the two years — through no fault of the courts. And we saw various legal teams representing the respondents.”

Both PCA and Venus initially used the "illegality argument" as a defence. This defence has been previously tested in the Federal Magistrates’ Court of Australia and on appeal to the Full bench of the Federal Court of Australia. It was subsequently dismissed.

Dunne says that DVD pirates often acknowledge that what they are doing breaches copyright, but use the fact that the pirated DVDs are sold in regions where these adult films are illegal to sell as a defence. “[Their argument is that] therefore any damages imposed by the courts have to be limited as the copyright owners couldn’t have made legitimate sales”, he said. “But this defence has been tested and dismissed by the courts.”

Dunne said he believed that the fact that it looked like the dispute was going to go to trial influenced the decision by PCA and Venus to settle. "It is good that it is resolved but two years is too long spent fighting this.”

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Amanda Conroy

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