Guardaley | X-Art

Malibu Media’s copyright trolling is put on life support while X-Art owners are selling their house

 

Marisol Malibu: an illegal porn production capital of Ventura County

11802 Ellice Street, Malibu, CA 90265. The showcase property of the posh Marisol Malibu community, located in unincorporated Ventura County, was designed by a renowned architect Barry Berkus who died in 2012 — before the house was sold to Brigham Field and Colette Pelissier — “barely legal” hardcore pornographers and probably the most infamous copyright trolls. To some extent, Mr. Berkus was lucky: he didn’t have to watch how his masterpiece was used as a porn production warehouse for three years.

X-Art owners bought this house for $16 million in June 2013, shortly after they “won” a farcical “Bellwether trial,” and they immediately started shooting porn there.

In 2014, the Brigham and Colette intended to buy an adjacent empty lot, but for some reason didn’t. Instead, two weeks ago they listed their house for sale — for $25 million.

It is rumored that our once successful pornographers are currently falling into a financial abyss, which prompted the sell (I was told that the Fields are selling other property). Lacking solid facts, I don’t want to speculate why and how it happened. Yet all the signals (including the attorney situation described in the next section) suggest that the troubles are real.

As I wrote in my 2014 story, the porn production at this house was illegal for two reasons: first, commercial filming is not permitted in the coastal residential area at all; second, filming without permission and/or shooting porn without barrier protection violates Ventura County Ordinance 4452, which provides for criminal penalties:

Any person or entity who produces or films an adult film for commercial purposes in the County without a valid permit, or any person, who violates any law, ordinance or regulation governing any activity regulated by this chapter, or who, upon demand of the Director, refuses or neglects to conform to a lawful order or directive of the Director pertaining to conduct regulated by this chapter, is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $1,000, imprisonment in the County jail for a period not exceed six months, or both. Each such act is punishable as a separate offense.


So, why did X-Art continued filming with impunity even after I broke the story about the illegal activity? Because no one seemingly cares: while this ordinance was sponsored by the county superintendent Linda Park in 2013, it looks like this law was never meant to be enforced. When I contacted Ms. Park’s office, I received the following reply:

Thank you for your e-mail. We contacted the County Code Compliance Department and the Director informed us that that Code Compliance would need to be provided “a filming schedule or be contacted when filming is occurring” so they can respond and document the violation, and that unfortunately the screen shots are not adequate proof for them to take criminal action.

Seriously?

Right, the screenshots are not adequate proof. Look, during the last month only X-Art posted eight porn flicks. Six of them were filmed at the Marisol mansion. Click the (NSFW!) links below to see screenshots and compare them with the photographs from the property listing.

I’ll leave it here. It is not my job to build a case for the Ventura’s AG. If the laws in this county are applied selectively, it’s not my business: I neither pay taxes nor vote there.

All I wanted was to stress one more time that the trolls can’t claim a moral high ground regarding “losses due to illegal file-sharing”: copyright infringement is a tort, yet the nature of violations we witness from the “victims of piracy” is criminal.

I don’t want to be a buyer who spends $25 million only to find out later that dozens and dozens of porn shoots took place in the new home. One can clean up bodily fluids, but the reputational stench stays forever.

This new buyer should blame the sales office / community management: they deliberately chose to assume an ostrich position. When I tweeted to @marisolmalibu about the situation, their response was… to block me from following.

Keith Lipscomb, Emilie Kennedy, and Pillar Law Group, APLC

I already wrote about the surprising crack in the relationship between X-Art and Keith Lipscomb. Given the latest events, an opinion that a lawyer shared with me on what could possibly happen gained a new weight:

Typically, attorneys are not required to state with specificity why they are withdrawing apart from the generalized statements you saw in Lipscomb’s filings. This is because often times, revealing the reasons might implicate privilege issues. Unless the case is close to trial, or there is some other irregularity in the case, most requests to withdraw are granted.

Now, as for the reasons. In the vast majority of cases, motions to withdraw are based on the client’s failure to pay. If Lipscomb et al., are trying to withdraw only from cases that are approaching trial, this might indicate that he has some type of tier fee structure with Malibu Media. My guess would be that Lipscomb et al., will take the case on contingency up to a point, after which Malibu has to start paying some part of their fees/cost (experts, travel, court reporters etc…). For example, if Malibu was responsible for all fees related to the trial but didn’t pay, Lipscomb could seek withdrawal for those reasons.

The only other reasons that a lawyer will typically withdraw representation are if: 1) the client stops cooperating with, or lying to the attorney or asks that he withdraw; or 2) the client is requesting that the attorney commit some action that would violate the law, or the rules of professional conduct.

My best guess would be money is the issue.

There is more than that. All the three attorneys, who helped Keith Lipscomb to part productive citizens from their hard-earned money, are not listed on the Lipscomb, Eisenberg and Baker’s website any longer:

Pillar Law Group became the destination for settlement checks sometime in April. The firm’s founders, Art Kalantar and Henrik Mosesi, hastily added “copyright” to the firm’s specializations, and Kennedy seemingly physically moved to California (as I deducted from her tweet):

Henrik MosesiColette Pelissier and Henrik Mosesi

As I understand, this firm’s attorneys (Henrik Mosesi in particular) were acquainted with X-Art for a while, but were not involved in the copyright shakedown aspect of X-Art’s business. Now they are.

The other attorneys, who work for Pillar Law, are:

  • Edgar Sargsyan
  • Anthony C. Williams
  • Anthony H. Lupu
Art KalantarArt Kalantar
(Артём Калантарян)

I don’t know if those guys will be helping Emilie to keep the enormous Malibu Media nationwide caseload afloat. Since Florida is ironically now the only state where Malibu doesn’t have a local counsel, Ms. Kennedy herself already appeared in the Malibu Media v. Rodlan appeal (I’ll report on this case in the following days). There was also some help attempt from local attorneys: the lawyer-playing kids Brian Heit and Brenna Erlbaum unsuccessfully tried to salvage Malibu Media v Raleigh (by immaturely emailing the MIWD chambers on the deadline to replace Malibu’s counsel), and Heit is currently seeking a pro hac vice admission to pick up Malibu Media v. Weaver (FLMD 14-cv-01580). I guess he will attempt to appear in Malibu Media v Curt Vandenheuvel (FLMD 13-cv-01579) as well. [6/3/2016 update: today was a deadline for the plaintiff’s counsel replacement in Weaver, and Emilie Kennedy decided to pick up the case herself.]

Of course, no new Malibu Media cases were filed since April 14, and I predict that the existing ones will die slowly — given the lack of experienced lawyer workforce (like the Miami’s team was) and X-Art’s apparent financial troubles. This is both good and bad news. Obviously good for those sued who are currently sitting and waiting, and not-so-good for those who expect to get attorney fees back from the troll if the troll goes bankrupt.


It seems to me that Colette’s ill-gotten wealth came and went, and with thousands of lives unnecessarily steamrolled over minor copyright violations, the world became a slightly colder place.


From the Urban Dictionary:

Nouveau riche means “newly rich” in French. One who has recently become rich, especially one who flaunts newly acquired wealth.

Nouveau riche is a term, usually derogatory, to describe persons who acquire wealth within their generation, and spend it conspicuously. The implication is that, being of lower- or middle-class origin, these individuals lack the taste to properly use wealth. Hence, this class of people is sometimes ill-regarded by old money as culturally inferior, comparatively lacking in pedigree and subtlety.

The benchmark of the “nouveau riche” is their acquiring possessions which are touted to them as being the sort of things that rich people would possess. “Old money” in traditional European societies has inherited a large house filled with well-built furniture acquired over the centuries. Their cars are not necessarily the most expensive and capable, but have a bit of restraint, or else they disguise their social position in cars of the middle rank. During the Great Depression, Chryslers, for example, were sold to such people for this reason. They fit within a social milieu in which everyone knows everyone else and has for generations. The “nouveau riche” in essence tries to crash this party by buying everything they need to show that they have money not merely within one generation but within a few years.

Updates

6/3/2016

Looks like Colette is back at her pre-pornography occupation — real estate brokerage — at least as a part time job.

Agents: Colette Pelissier, Sotheby’s International Realty, (310) 481-6262

Debts won’t pay for themselves, and filming 10-min skin flicks using the the same “sophisticated plot” over and over again apparently didn’t turn out to be a bottomless gold mine as Brigham and Colette initially thought. Porn consumers crave novelty, and if there isn’t any, no matter how professional camera work is, paying subscribers eventually lose interest. In addition, I was told that Colette’s vanity project colette.com was a huge money burner an didn’t even break even. That’s my opinion on the reasons behind the recent events. I expect to hear Colette blaming piracy — an ever-convenient scapegoat — for her own bad decisions. Well, while unauthorized file sharing did have a certain negative impact, one needs to to be gullible to the point of idiocy to believe it was the reason behind the downfall.

5/8/2017

A weird news reported by TMZ today:

You correctly guessed that the “porn moguls” are Colette and Brigham.

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Discussion

31 responses to ‘Malibu Media’s copyright trolling is put on life support while X-Art owners are selling their house

  1. Should have opted for the $14 million mansion, Colette.

    “Not like Prenda,” they said. Ha! Don’t worry, I’m sure Hansmeier will be all too happy to share his experiences and advice to his fellow fighters against the specter of piracy.

    Just be wary of the advice Duffy gives you, considering his position.

  2. bye_felcia.gif

    Wouldn’t it be a hoot if Lippy finally discovered how the films were making it online before release & thats what made him walk?

    • Much more likely he got wind of the letters looking into Pretenda and did some quick calculations about how screwed he would be if they took an interest in him.
      The Fields can claim they were duped by the Germans & the lawyers, and they had no idea that that cabal was putting the material out there to file lawsuits & generate the money that way. Collette can tearfully appear via telephone (because its to much of a burden to appear in court) and talk about how they were just a couple of hard working people who started their own business and it all started to collapse & the cabal told them they could save them but never revealed all of the details.

      I mean Lippy could have emails that show his clients were well aware of what was going on, but if he revealed that & broke the rules he would be disbarred. The FBI raiding his offices would damage (ha!) his reputation further, so can’t have that.

      My bet is he did the back of the envelope calculations & decided that they cash wasn’t worth the risk any longer. Now that the FBI is actively looking into one of the largest trolls (with whom Lippy shares a business model) it would merely be a matter of time until an Agent wondered if the other players use the same playbook and poke around. There is quite a bit Lippy would like to keep hidden under the rocks out of sight, and even a fresh from the academy noobie agent could connect the dots.

  3. To clarify: the flicks that X-Art uploaded in May are filmed in their home weeks or months ago. The mansion being sold has been vacant for a while.

    Also: neighbors were quite aware of the illegal porn shoots and reportedly are happy that the Fields have moved out.

    • “neighbors were quite aware”

      Between that and the selective enforcement of local laws, wouldn’t they have a case for a corruption complaint to state or federal bodies?

  4. While I know the cost of boxed wine was surely getting Colette down, maybe the fact that she was trying to be a fashionista is what torpedoed their finances. After all you can’t buy class with a nice house in a chic neighborhood and think you will be invited over to the neighbors and the block parties.

    I am sure after realizing who had moved into that house the neighbors were rather aghast at the trash that had move into their neighborhood and even more so when they found out just what type of people the neighbors were and what they did for a living and the fact that it was happening down their street.

    I am sure many many phone calls were placed to the bylaw department about the violations taking place. I am sure Colette being the high class person she is didnt mind sitting at kitchen island having some of that boxed wine where only earlier some guy and gal had boned in the name of art. I’m sure that will go over well with the potential buyers when they see the house.

    Maybe after seeing Prenda getting the potential shoulder tap from the FBI and the “we’d like to speak with you ” talk that the Fields are a little concerned. The fact that there is trouble in Malibu land with cases nearing trial and potential judgements to pay looming possibly may mean that someone was wondering where that next box of wine was coming from.

    Or could it be that being a notorious copyright troll and the public learning more and more of what you are really about while proclaiming the poverty angle has hurt website sales and settlement offer enough that someone may not be able to come up with those hefty mortgage payments anymore? One wonders.

    Or maybe much like George and Louise Jefferson, the Fields found out that movin on up to a deluxe apartment in the sky doesnt mean your any better than were you came from in the first place ( my apologies to George and Louise Jefferson for bring your name up in mention with people who dont nearly have the class you do )

  5. If your house is your studio, film production/distribution hub and office; can you deduct certain expenses on your 1040?

  6. Wow. Your report is hard hitting news, well written. The good news should always come from a good source.
    Thank you
    GM

  7. Do we know that they are trying to sell because of financial problems, rather than just needing a fresh set to shoot in?

    • First of all, they never produced 100% of porn at their home. Moreover, after the initial noise I created 2 years ago, they managed to film somewhere else for a long time. I never compiled a comprehensive list, maybe I’ll do if I have an incentive. At this moment I don’t: it is time-consuming and not likely will lead to desired results (i.e. prosecution). I do possess all their flicks up to 5/30/2016, all legal — via a paid membership.

      As of recent, a popular alternative for indoor filming was a house located in Upton CA. The owner rents his house not only to X-Art, but to other porn studios. it is located in San Bernardino County, which, to the best of my knowledge, doesn’t have laws on the books similar to what Ventura and Los Angeles counties have.

      I hope I was pretty clear in my wording that financial problems is a rumor at this time, although very plausible. In my opinion. I was told that the Fields sold/selling their Beverly Hills house and the condo they bought for Fraulein Franziska as well, yet at this moment I cannot independently verify the claims.

      • They bought a condo for Franziska? No wonder she was here years ago trying to talk legal. The whipped puppy has to speak up for its wounded master… effectiveness notwithstanding.

        And despite the rampant piracy they thought it was a good idea and somehow had the money to gift one of their models with her own house. Ironic that it wasn’t piracy that ruined their finances – it was the attempts to chase after easy victims through legal shakedowns that did.

  8. Hi FCT,
    I have started following your blog and I have a question. You mention Torrents often. Isn’t the reason why torrents are used is to hide? How are attorneys able to find them?
    Also, are “companies” leaking and or putting their pornos on the web so people will download them so they can sue? Is that fair to say?

    • 1. No, Bittorent is not used to hide, it is inherently open as it relies on exchange of file chunks among peers. For that, a direct connection must be established, hence IP address is visible. So, to learn one’s IP address, a monitoring company starts participating in the swarm (using a modified client that has upload function suppressed), and all the peers in the same swarm “introduce” themselves, i.e. send their IP & port information. It is possible to use a VPN to mask one’s IP address, yet if it is a direct ISP provided connection, the IP address and timestamp can be recorded and later used to subpoena the said ISP to learn who was the subscriber at that address and time.

      2. The second question doesn’t have a definitive answer. It is nearly certain that Prenda did seed their files. With Guardaley (which includes Malibu Media), it is far from proven, although there some glaring unanswered questions that strongly suggest that something fishy is going on.

      • My goodness you are smart and educated on this, FTC. Thank you. I read your story about how you and your significant other knew nothing about copyright trolling and that is how and why you opened this site. Bless you.

        VPN is used to hide.. Got it. Not torrent..
        lol.
        One more question if I may?
        When you all discovered John Steele (possibly) used his GoDaddy account to comment here, isn’t GoDaddy a domain and host provider and not an ISP etc?
        For example; my cell provider is Sprint and ATT&T (yes, I have two cell phones one is from work and other is personal; company issued one after I signed two year contract. ) so if I am not connected to my ISP WIFI, my ip is through sprint or AT&T, depending on what cell phone I use.

        I know every website has an I.P. But if you are commenting on other websites, how could Steele use his GoDaddy-IP/account to comment here or anyone for that matter?

        I am sorry if I am asking toooo many questions. I find this all so fascinating, more so the psychology of it all.

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