And scene. The rather creative legal battle between Eric Dane and wife Rebecca Gayheart and Gawker over the couple's sex tape, co-starring celebrity rehab star Kari Ann Peniche, has settled in favor of the McSteamy couple.
Gawker, who posted the provocative video for almost a year, will take down the suggestive footage and pay the couple damages in the low six figures, according to E! Online. In return, Dane and Gayheart will drop the $1 million lawsuit they had against the popular internet site. Gawker COO Gaby Darbyshire was quick to release a statement regarding the meaning of the settlement, "Although we are confident that our use of the video on Gawker was protected fair use, because the posts already had been available to our readers for nearly a year, and because we already won an important decision from the court striking large parts of the plaintiffs' damages claims, we agreed to remove the posts as part of a global settlement to avoid the burden of further litigation."
The important decision Darbyshire is referring to concerns an earlier determination by the court in which the couple lost their statutory damages claims stemming from a copyright infringement argument. Their case was unique among the usual celebrity sex tape issues because Eric Dane and Rebecca Gayheart essentially sought to give "director credits" to Dane for holding the camera during some of the scenes. With over 4 million views, the couple unsuccessfully tried to collect sizeable damages for every instance of copyright infringement, reports E! Online. This approach failed mainly because of a timing issue -- the couple should have copyrighted the video before commencing the lawsuit against Gawker.
A typical sex tape case usually concerns privacy rights and control over commercial images rather than copyright infringement. Celebrities such as Kendra Wilkinson and Kim Kardashian have both successfully argued that the unauthorized release of their sex tapes was an invasion of their right to sexual privacy and an unauthorized use of their commercial image. Nevertheless, the settlement is still a legal victory (and hopefully a lesson learned) for Eric Dane and Rebecca Gayheart. Since the stream of celebrity sex tapes does not seem to be coming to an end any time soon, at least clever lawyering is bringing about new ways to halt production.