In an unexpected move, TMZ and their parent company Warner Bros. are suing a videographer who sold them a tape featuring Jared Leto making disparaging remarks about Taylor Swift. The singer-actor previously filed his own lawsuit against the tabloid site, claiming that posting the video was both copyright infringement and an invasion of privacy. On Friday, TMZ filed their own complaint against the tape's videographer, Jacob Miller, claiming that he misled them regarding the ownership of the video in question.
As The Hollywood Reporter writes, the lawsuit puts Warner Bros in a precarious position, as Leto is among the stars in the upcoming DC Comics blockbuster Suicide Squad, which will be distributed by Warner's film unit. While it's rare for a news organization to file a lawsuit against a source, the fact that TMZ acquired the video for a fee – $2,000, according to Leto's lawsuit against the site – opened up the possibility for legal action against the videographer.
"At the heart of this lawsuit is a straightforward question: Who owned the copyright in the allegedly infringed video on December 4, 2015?," TMZ's compliant says in its opening. "On that date, Third-Party Defendant Jacob Guy Miller represented to [TMZ affiliate] EHM that he created the video, that he had the right to and would sell it to EHM, and that he was free to do so 'without any obligations to any third party.'" However, the complaint goes on to claim that if it's determined that Leto's Sisyphus Touring company was the proper owner of the tape, then Miller should be liable for "any judgment that may issue against [TMZ]."
In the leaked video, Leto and a studio engineer are seen listening to Taylor Swift's 1989. After initially complementing the music and joking that he wanted to "steal" some of her work, the Thirty Seconds to Mars singer then says of Swift, "I mean, fuck her. I don't give a fuck about her."
Once the video leaked, Leto effusively apologized to Swift over social media. "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 tweeted. Less than a week after the video's dissemination, Leto filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against TMZ.