A prominent Orange County-based celebrity photography agency is suing a San-Francisco-based, gay website for alleged unauthorized use of six of the company's photographs of singer/actress Jessica Simpson's father.
Mivrix Photographs filed its copyright complaint this week inside the Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse in Santa Ana and is seeking at least $1.8 million in damages against GayCities, Inc. and its www.queerty.com Internet site.
According to the lawsuit written by plaintiff attorney Peter R. Afrasiabi of Newport Beach, the defendants committed copyright infringement 12 times with six different images of Joe Simpson "with a young male companion."
"Defendants herein have driven massive traffic to queerty.com in large part due to the presence of the sought-after and searched-for celebrity images and content that frame this dispute," Afrasiabi wrote. "All of this traffic translates into significant ill-gotten commercial advantage and revenue generation for defendants as a direct consequence of their infringing actions."
Queerty staffer Matthew Tharrett is named in the lawsuit as "another infringer" of the images.
The law allows Mavrix statutory damages of up to $150,000 per infringement, according to Afrasiabi.
Though originally filed in Orange County, the case was transferred to Los Angeles, where U.S. District Court Judge George H. Wu, a 2007 George W. Bush appointee, will preside.
GayCities lawyers have not yet filed a response.
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If eventual mediation doesn't resolve the dispute, the case will go to trial at an unknown future date.