Inside Move: Lawsuit socks gossip site

PerezHilton.com sued for alleged copyright infringement

The world of catty online gossip is now seeing a nasty catfight of its own.

PerezHilton.com, the super-popular gossip blog full of celebrity photos and trash talk, was hit with a $7.5 million lawsuit from celeb photo agency X17 on Thursday for alleged copyright infringement.

In a series of charges that mirror networks’ and labels’ complaints about sites like MySpace and YouTube, X17 alleged that PerezHilton has built its business by posting its photos without first obtaining rights.

Brandy Navarre, veep at X17, said she has offered PerezHilton the right to use some of its photos in return for including the X17 logo and linking to the agency’s own recently launched site, through which it’s hoping to make money itself on the Web.

She said that while other sites have generally abided by those terms, PerezHilton has consistently violated them. By suing one of the biggest gossip bloggers, X17 is also issuing a clear public warning to PerezHilton.com’s competitors.

Mario Lavandeira, proprietor of PerezHilton.com, didn’t reply to an email request for comment late Thursday.

Online celeb gossip has become a huge business in the past two years, as reflected in the quick success of AOL and Telepictures’ TMZ.com.