Today's Evil Beet Gossip

X17 Makes a Pretty Good Point

This afternoon, the paparazzi agency posted an open letter to AOL/Time Warner and all the folks behind TMZ.com on their blog. TMZ links to Mario Lavandeira’s (aka Perez Hilton) blog automatically in their Hot Links section. While I adore TMZ, X17 makes the fair point that TMZ’s parent company, AOL Time Warner, has, in other contexts, appeared to be very concerned about piracy, but their TMZ property doesn’t seem concerned at all.

In fairness, TMZ links to a variety of blogs that use pirated images, present company included. Why is X17 focusing on Lavandeira? Well, probably because he’s making more $$ off it than anyone else, and also because he’s been asked repeatedly to strike a deal with X17 and refuses. Lord knows he can afford it; he’s currently charging $1200/week for a Blogad at the bottom of the page. Ads at the top go for $9,000/week. He also manages to get his hands on their photos before they even finish distributing them to magazines — I think he still probably has a friend or two at that celeb weekly he used to work for in Florida … It’s driving the kids at X17 fucking crazy.

Anyway, interesting open letter, reprinted after the jump without permission.

To All the Important Suits, Bigwigs, Legal Council, Top Dogs at AOL/Time Warner, AOL Entertainment, and Telepictures:

There’s a guy, Mario Lavandeira, who takes photo agency’s pix all the time and posts them on his blog. Your web property TMZ.com links to each and every individual post on his site automatically (in their Hot Blogs section). We at X17 call this SUPPORT for his infringement of ours and others’ images.

The peeps over at TMZ are aware that Lavandeira is not paying to license our images and so far nothing’s been done about their linking policy. Despite our filing of a $10 million copyright infringement lawsuit against Lavandeira, they haven’t altered their linking practices thusfar.

So we’d like to ask all the people listed above, why — when a company like Time Warner is so concerned with piracy (the film industry loses approximately $3.5 billion a year to pirates) and when a company like AOL has been careful to make deals with wire services like the Agence France Presse so as to avoid copyright infringement lawsuits like the one Google settled recently with AFP — AOL/Time Warner has allowed their AOL Entertainment/Telepictures property TMZ to continue legitimizing, supporting, and promoting the infringement perpetrated by PerezHilton by linking to each and every story in which he unlawfully uses our images.

We at X17 want to open the dialogue, point fingers, and make people in high places question their practices. Does AOL/Time Warner want to publicly throw their support behind this guy? We challenge them to take a side. Think about what it would mean to say that you support the unlicensed, unathorized use of copyrighted content anywhere and everywhere on the Internet. Is that the position you want to take?

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