LOS ANGELES (CN) – Jared Leto says TMZ was “legally and morally wrong” to post a video in which he disrespects pop idol Taylor Swift, and he sued the gossip website for copyright infringement.
Leto, an actor and Thirty Seconds to Mars frontman sued TMZ and Warner Bros. Entertainment in Federal Court on Wednesday through his company Sisyphus Touring. He claims TMZ released the footage though it knew the video was stolen.
“Last Sunday, I was alerted that TMZ had acquired personal and private video footage of me in my home and that they were planning to leak it on their site,” Leto wrote in a Dec. 10 post on his website. “My team notified TMZ immediately that I fully owned the footage and that their source had absolutely no rights to sell it. They chose to post it anyway.”
In the video, Leto is shown in a recording studio listening to and commenting on songs from Swift’s “1989” album. At the end of the footage Leto states: “I mean, fuck her, I don’t give a fuck about her, it’s whatever works best for us.”
On Tuesday, Leto walked back the statements on Twitter.
“The truth is I think @TaylorSwift13 is amazing + an incredible example of what’s possible. If I hurt her or her fans my sincerest apologies,” Leto wrote.
According to Leto’s complaint, the video was obtained “through illicit means,” by Leto’s former videographer, who got $2,000 for it from TMZ.
Leto says the videographer refused to sign a document confirming ownership or rights, but TMZ posted it anyway at 1 a.m. on Dec. 7.
“Fifteen minutes after TMZ published the footage they were informed by the videographer of the following: ‘do not post the footage. I do not own it. I do not have permission.’ Even after receiving this written notice, TMZ continued to disseminate the footage,” the 7-page lawsuit states.
Leto posted on his website: “Let’s be clear. This was stolen footage. This was an invasion of privacy. And it was both legally and morally wrong.”
Leto said he filed the lawsuit to “encourage more people to stop trafficking in stolen goods, to follow proper legal procedure and so that it may motivate additional consideration for the harm these acts can create, especially when the only intention is to simply further the bottom line for the companies and corporations that commit these acts.”
Leto seeks disgorgement of profits, or alternatively actual and statutory damages for copyright infringement, and profits, and a court order impounding the footage.
TMZ did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment on Thursday.
Leto is represented by Howard King, with King, Holmes, Paterno & Soriano.
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