Perez Hilton blog having problems

Crucial dims site's lights after copyright claims

In what may be the first hit against bloggerazzi star Perez Hilton’s empire, his main webhost has dropped Perezhilton.com.

After numerous warnings against Hilton’s (aka Mario Lavandeira) use of copyrighted celebrity images, the Oz-based Crucial Paradigm took the site off line; it was dark for a number of hours before it returned to the Internet with a different host.

Hilton is currently named in four lawsuits involving eight photo agencies for his alleged theft of photographs that appear on his site, one that’s been a popular gossip destination for some 2½ years. Hilton frequently adds his own captions to the shots.

“One of the things the (Crucial) administrator in Sydney had told us the day before was if they received any more notices — any claim of copyright infringement — the site is coming down immediately,” said Matt Lum, owner of Hoodlum Productions, the L.A.-based company that manages Hilton’s site. “The action was taken, in my opinion, to insure Crucial some sort of proof if they were sued, some way to protect themselves.”

Crucial Paradigm had no comment on the action.

Hilton’s site is up and running, albeit on less than full power.

“He has a skeleton or temporary situation where he can still post,” Lum explained. “It has limited inter-activity, his archives are not there and things like that. We’ve enabled him to continue to do what he does to a limited degree until we can figure how to handle the larger situation.”

What he does — limited or not — is exactly the problem, from the agency point of view.

“It’s the first victory, and we put a lot of work into trying to get this to happen,” said Francois Navarre, co-owner of L.A.-based X17 agency. His company has filed a suit against Hilton, claiming that Hilton has been using X17 images for nearly a year. “It’s a precedent that’s huge. When we were talking to Crucial Paradigm they were saying they were not responsible, dragging their feet. We had to threaten them and show them they were liable. His new host is Blogads, and we’re contacting them already.”

“If it’s correct, it’s a very important event in our client’s lawsuit,” stated Nick Penkovsky, a member of the legal team representing five agencies suing Hilton. “It’s always been our position that this lawsuit is not simply about protecting our clients’ work, but that copyrighted work is not free to be poached for posting on the Internet without permission and compensation.”

Hilton, who has contended that his actions fall under the fair use provision of the Copyright Act, did not respond to Daily Variety.