DOCUMENT: Celebrity

Perez Hilton In Alien Paparazzi Suit

Claims copycat blog's use of illegals creates unfair competition

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Perez Hilton In Alien Paparazzi Suit

JUNE 26--Finally, a lawsuit in which Perez Hilton is not being accused of copyright violations.

In fact, the gossip blogger (real name: Mario Lavandeira) is the one suing this time, claiming that a rogue Los Angeles photo agency is unfairly competing against his blog by, among other things, employing a platoon of illegal aliens who physically threaten the paparazzi competition.

Filed yesterday, Lavandeira's Los Angeles Superior Court complaint (a copy of which you'll find here) alleges that the X17 agency's owners engage in "illegal and unethical business practices" and that they exploit the company's photographers, many of whom are "from Brazil or other countries" and are "believed to be illegal aliens." He also charges that the agency may "employ photographers with criminal backgrounds and/or gang affiliations."

While Lavandeira does not identify any paparazzi by name, X17 photographer Ramon "Twist" Kirk is a convicted sex offender. As first revealed by reporter Eric Longabardi, Kirk spent 16 months in a California prison for the felony sex crime, which involved a teenage girl. Click here for a mug shot of Kirk, who reportedly has spent time stalking/photographing Reese Witherspoon and her two young children.

Lavandeira contends that X17 has launched a "copycat blog" and, to secure a competitive advantage, the agency exploits its labor pool "through unlawful business practices." Lavandeira's legal attack comes seven months after X17 filed a $7.5 million lawsuit against him, claiming that he posted dozens of their photos without permission or payment.

Last week, the photo agency had a hand in the decision by Crucial Paradigm, a web hosting service, to remove Lavandeira's site from its servers. The drastic move came as a result of repeated copyright infringement notices sent to Crucial Paradigm, which apparently was concerned about its own legal exposure due to its business relationship with the litigation-prone Lavandeira. (12 pages)