The gossip blogger's use of an agency's paparazzi photos puts the legal spotlight on copyright infringement
By Robin Abcarian
Lost Angeles Times
It's hard to know whom to sympathize with in this fight.
On one side: the paparazzi who stalk celebrities in their moments of greatest vulnerability — at doctors' offices, with their newborns, when they are falling-down drunk.
On the other: a blogger who helps himself to those photos, scrawls puerile comments on them, and posts them on his immensely popular and profitable website.
The owners of one L.A. photo agency are so frustrated with what they consider to be blatant theft by self-styled "gossip gangsta" Perez Hilton that they've decided to make a federal case of it.
On Nov. 30, X17 Inc., known for the aggressive pursuit of celebrity prey, filed a $7.6-million federal copyright infringement lawsuit against Hilton, alleging that he has used 51 photos without permission, payment or credit.
The list of allegedly infringed photos is an almost poetic inventory of the state of pop culture and people's obsession with it: "Pregnant Katie Holmes," "Kevin Federline Pumping Gas," "The New Slim Britney Spears," "Britney Spears Exposes Her Derriere," "Britney Spears Exposes Herself (Again)."
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