Actor and musician Jared Leto is suing TMZ for copyright infringement, alleging that the the celebrity gossip website published a private video of him despite being warned it was stolen.
The video, posted Monday, features Leto in his home studio listening to and disparaging Taylor Swift’s 1989 album. “I don’t like this at all – next,” he says of one track. The clip ends with him saying, “I mean, f— her. I don’t give a f— about her.” (Leto apologized to Swift on Twitter.)
In a complaint filed in California federal court Wednesday and obtained by EW, plaintiff Sisyphus Touring (Leto’s company) claims that the footage of the 30 Seconds to Mars frontman is “working material that is confidential, private, and was not intended for public exhibition.” It further states that the footage “was obtained through illicit means” by a former videographer of Leto’s, who then sold it to TMZ for $2,000.
According to the suit, the videographer refused to sign a document for TMZ confirming he had the legal right to the footage and eventually tried to convince the site not to publish it. The plaintiff also claims to have told TMZ the footage was stolen before publication. Leto is seeking unspecified damages in the suit.
He released a statement via his website Thursday and explained why he was filing a lawsuit. “I have chosen to file this lawsuit not because I want to, but in hopes it will encourage more people to stop trafficking in stolen goods,” he wrote, “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.”
See Leto’s full statement:
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. 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.
Let’s be clear. This was stolen footage. This was an invasion of privacy. And it was both legally and morally wrong. Regardless of who we are, we should all be able to talk freely in the privacy of our own homes without the fear that our unfiltered thoughts or actions will get broadcast to the world. We have the right to privacy and security and when we don’t have protections in place to safeguard those things, we lose the freedom to speak loudly and clearly – right or wrong – about anything and everything we choose to.
I have chosen to file this lawsuit not because I want to, but in hopes it will 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’s lawyer Howard E. King previously sued TMZ for airing leaked and confidential footage of Debbie Rowe in 2010. That lawsuit, which centered on an interview with Rowe shortly after the death of her ex-husband, Michael Jackson, was settled in 2011.