In a blow to the 51-year-old radio personality, the U.S. District Court of the Central District of California gave the Internet Entertainment Group (IEG) the green light to post nude photos of Schlessinger that were taken when she was in her 20s, according to IEG.
Dr. Laura, as her 18 million daily listeners call her, took IEG to court on Friday and Judge Dean Pregerson temporarily barred the site from publishing the photos. As reported, however, the judge lifted the restraining order yesterday. The photos now are back online and free to adult Net users for the next week. IEG membership normally costs $24.95 per month.
"We are free to put them back on the site. It is up to judge to let the case go any further," said IEG spokeswoman Heather Dalton. "We bought the photos from [former Los Angeles radio talk show host] Bill Ballance and he had the copyright, which the court recognized."
It is unclear how the publication of the photos will affect Dr. Laura's bully pulpit. Schlessinger preaches personal responsibility, is against divorce, and pushes values such as abstinence before marriage. She also tries to help her listeners avoid sexually explicit content on the Net by offering them the blocking program WebChaperone.
Before each show today, Dr. Laura made a brief statement about the photos and Ballance, who she said had been her "mentor and friend."
Although she is embarrassed by the photos, she said they were taken when she was 28 years old, going through a divorce, and had "no moral authority."
"I've undergone profound changes over the course of my life from atheist to observant Jew," she added. "I am mystified as to why this 80-year-old man would do such a morally reprehensible thing."
Schlessinger lawyers indicated that they will appeal the ruling.
"We won round one on Friday, October 30. We lost round two on November 2. Round three has just began," Schlessinger's attorneys said in a statement released today.
In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, a magazine that has pointed out other apparent contradictions in Schlessinger's life, she was quoted as saying she had made mistakes in her life that "I regret and have shame for."
The Dr. Laura controversy is not the first for IEG, nor is this the first time the company has been taken to court over celebrity-related material.
IEG is perhaps best known for making millions of dollars from exclusive rights to distribute online a sexually explicit home video of former Baywatch star Pamela Anderson Lee and her rocker husband, Tommy Lee. The Lees initially had sued IEG to block sales of the video, but then cut a non-disclosed deal allowing the company to continue distributing it.
Yesterday, however, Pregerson also threw out the Lees' lawsuit that alleged they gave IEG permission only to publish the video on the Net--not to sell it via CD-ROM, video cassette, and to hotel rooms on a pay-per-view basis, according to States News Service. An attorney for the Lees said they probably will appeal that decision.
IEG has had mixed results in its battles to publish celebrities' most intimate moments.
In April, Pregerson sided with Pamela Lee's ex-boyfriend, Bret Michaels, lead singer of the band Poison, who had sued IEG to stop it from posting online a 45-minute sex video of himself and the former TV star.
The judge granted Michaels a preliminary injunction, pending a final decision. Michaels is asking for $90 million in damages.
"Sexual relations are among the most personal and intimate of acts," the judge wrote in his decision. "The Court is not prepared to conclude that public exposure of one sexual encounter forever removes a person's privacy interest in all subsequent and previous sexual encounters."
Reuters contributed to this report.