Reached for comment by MTV News, X17 co-owners Francois and Brandy Navarre initially declined comment because they have not been served with the suit, but when asked about the police matter, they said that the photographers are not employees, but freelancers, and therefore are not under contract. "I don't think the suit against us will hold up," Brandy said. "They give me their pictures but whatever they do on their own is their own business," Francois said.

Respectable news outlets like CNN and ABC, plus the usual assortment of celebrity media like Us Weekly, keep X17 supplied with licensing money. (All are clients, according to the Atlantic.) That's less likely to continue if the clients think they are bankrolling a gang.

MTV: Paparazzo Sues X17 Agency After Alleged Assault While Covering Britney Spears