One week and countless downloads after a homemade sex tape featuring Fred Durst first hit the Internet, lawyers for the Limp Bizkit frontman filed a copyright-infringement lawsuit against several of the Web sites that posted still images and video footage of the rocker's X-rated romp. The sum total of damages could reach $80 million.
The Firm, Limp Bizkit's management team, issued a statement regarding the lawsuit on Monday (March 7), which reads, "In filing these lawsuits, it is not our goal to make any money, but to make sure no one sells these tapes or implies that it was ever Fred's intention to sell them himself."
According to the lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles and obtained by the Smoking Gun Web site, the video was pilfered from the bro-rock pioneer's hard drive (see "Fred Durst Says Sex Video Was Stolen From His Computer"), possibly by the same tech-savvy perpetrators who'd hacked into reality-television star and hotel heiress Paris Hilton's PDA (see "Paris Hilton's Private Stuff All Over The Internet"). Both matters are being investigated by the Secret Service as "connected" events.
Various Web sites that merely posted links to other sites that were airing the video — which Durst admits he shot himself — were also named in the suit.
Durst's lawyers have requested temporary restraining orders that would prohibit all of those same companies from further displaying footage from the couple's coital collaboration. Named as defendants in the suit are Internet hosting and service providers including Everyone's Internet, Hurricane Electric, Peer1 Network, Servint Internet Service, the Planet Internet Services, Tierranet and Verio, along with Web gossip hounds Gawker Media and record label Roadrunner Records, which provides online hosting to heavy metal rumor mill Blabbermouth.net.
"Despite what they may think, Fred is actually a fan of sites like Gawker.com and probably appreciates what they do more than most people out there," a spokesperson for Durst said in a statement. "Unfortunately for us, there is no way around it. The only way to stop all the other sites from hosting and making cash off the video is to file suit. Then, the suit is taken and practically used as a press release by the media. The press adds up the total number of damages someone could be sued for if they insisted on continuing to host the video and infringing on all of our various rights, and use the big number to attract viewers or readers to their story. We are not suing anybody for $80 million, but could if necessary."
The suit claims the owner of an adult-entertainment company contacted Durst's manager, Peter Katsis, in December of 2004, claiming to have access to the film through a third party. Katsis said this individual wanted to make the footage available on the commercial market and wanted to run the idea by Durst himself. Katsis was also told that the video was in fact stolen from Durst's personal computer.
Durst has copyrighted the footage in the wake of its appearance on the Web; according to the suit, this was done to prevent anyone from selling the video. Several of the sites named in the filing have since removed all traces of the sex tape from their domain pages.