An ex-boyfriend of Pamela Anderson Lee is launching a legal battle to prevent the online distribution of a sexually explicit home video of himself and the former Baywatch star.
On Friday, Bret Michaels, lead singer of the band Poison, filed a complaint and was granted a temporary restraining order against the Internet Entertainment Group (IEG), derailing the company's plan to post the 45-minute video on its Web site today.
As part of his lawsuit, Michaels is asking for more than $90 million, claiming promotional clips and any full release of the tape will cause "irreparable harm" to his career. Michaels is suing the Seattle company on grounds of invasion of privacy and copyright violation, among other charges. The U.S. District Court of the Central District of California will hold a hearing on Monday to consider Michaels's request for a preliminary injunction. Michaels is seeking to bar IEG completely from ever displaying or selling the video.
"Bret doesn't want the video to be shown at all. He's asking for punitive damages already done by the promotion of this," said Susan McGuire, who is head of production for Michaels's and actor Charlie Sheen's film company, Sheen/Michaels Entertainment.
"Bret Michaels has opened this film company and a record company. He is trying to legitimize himself," she added. "This video is going to hurt his reputation. We have no idea how they got this."
IEG is best known for a separate intimate video it posted on the Net last fall of Lee and her husband, musician Tommy Lee of the band Motley Crue--which has received up to 17 million hits per day, according to the company. The Lees also sued IEG over the so-called wedding video, but settled the dispute in December, allowing the company to continue distribution.
IEG's tactics have sparked an online privacy debate over its right to publish the privately taped videos that it obtained from nondisclosed sources. But the company contends that it has paid "authorized" parties for the legal rights to the videos.
"IEG is confident that it has all intellectual property rights to the video. The source who sold the video to IEG claims to have gotten the rights from Bret Michaels," Derek Newman, staff counsel to IEG, said today. "If Bret Michaels tries to benefit by displaying the video, we will sue him for violation of copyright."
The company also will argue that Michaels's privacy hasn't been violated. "His relationship with Pamela Anderson [Lee] wasn?t private, it's been public," Newman added. "Under the state's common and statutory law, if something is newsworthy, the court can't restrain somebody's free speech rights to publicize it."
Unlike the Michaels-Lee amateur movie, the "wedding video" of Lee and her husband was taped outdoors. The Lees argued the video was stolen from their home and distributed without their permission--a violation of their rights. IEG countered that the video was made in public--on a boat trip on Lake Mead in Nevada--so the two celebrities forfeited their privacy rights.
The Lees' spokesperson declined to comment on Michaels's lawsuit.