One of the first digital media companies to build a business around viral videos has turned to Venable’s Douglas Emhoff to sue its competitors for copyright infringement, the latest of which accused WorldStarHipHop last week of stealing nearly 300 videos, including this year’s hit clip of a mom donning a Chewbacca mask.
The suit, filed on Sept. 9, is the latest copyright infringement case for Jukin Media Inc., whose partners include The Huffington Post and Verizon Wireless. In the past year, Jukin, established in 2009, has brought copyright infringement claims over hundreds of videos against Zoomin.TV, www.break.com owner Defy Media Inc. and comedian Ray William Johnson’s Equals Three Studio. Those cases settled for confidential sums this year.
“We’re doing it when we have these egregious cases, when we have extreme numbers of our content stolen,” said Joseph Moschella, head of business and legal affairs at Los Angeles-based Jukin. “We need to go through and make sure our rights holders are protected.”
Emhoff insisted that suing isn’t part of Jukin Media’s business strategy. “They’re not in the business of getting into litigation,” he said. “The business model is content.”
Jukin, which claims to have a library of more than 30,000 original videos, makes money by paying for people’s videos and then licensing the content to news sites, late-night television shows and other programs. Jukin also creates compiled and edited shows around the videos like FailArmy and The Pet Collective. The company boasts 20 million fans and more than 1,000 licensing partners.
Since 2013, Jukin has sent takedown notices under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to its competitors. The latest suit alleges that WorldStarHipHop, a hip-hop aggregator, ripped off 39 videos Jukin registered with the U.S. Copyright Office, including the Chewbacca mom video and a clip of two brothers persuading their sister there was a zombie apocalypse. The suit also brings infringement claims over Jukin’s FailArmy trademark and lists another 250 unregistered videos that could be added to the complaint, which names Los Angeles-based QWorldstar Inc. and Worldstar Management LLC.
According to the suit, WorldStarHipHop removed the videos last month. Jukin seeks an undisclosed amount of past revenues lost due to infringement and an injunction to stop future illegal uploads.
Amanda Bronstad can be reached at email@example.com On Twitter: @abronstadnlj.