Paramount Triumphs In ‘La Dolce Vita’ Copyright Case

Paramount was handed a victory this week in its battle over who owns the domestic rights to the classic La Dolce Vita. “Partial summary judgment is granted in favor of Plaintiffs with respect to their First Claim for Relief because as a matter of undisputed fact and law, Defendant does not own, and at no time has owned, the United States copyright in the Film,” wrote federal Judge S. James Otero on Wednesday (read it here) in a rebuke to distributor International Media Films’ claim of chain of title. The case now heads to assessment of damages but the win for Paramount is clear though it took over a year and a half to get there. Paramount and affiliate Melange Pictures first filed suit against IMF in late November 2011, claiming that they had the copyright to the 1960 Federico Fellini film. In 2010, Paramount had received cease and desist letters from IMF when they re-released the film on its 50th anniversary theatrical and with new DVD and Blue-ray editions. IMF claimed they had the title of ownership to La Dolce Vita so this ended up in court. As these things do, it spent a few years being fought out. In April of this year, Paramount and Melange argued in front of the California-based district judge for their motion for summary judgement that IMF not only did not have any U.S. ownership to “one of the great achievements of world cinema,” as their initial complaint called the film, but that the distributor was directly infringing on the studio’s rights. While granting Paramount’s claims that they have always owned the rights to La Dolce Vita domestically and the claim that “a matter of undisputed fact and law, Defendant has contributorily infringed upon Plaintiffs’ United States copyright on the Film,” Otero rejected the claims of vicarious infringement on Wednesday. Still three out of four was enough for Paramount.

Jack Cairl of Isaacman Kaufman & Painter as well as David Manning Chodos of Chodos & Associates represent International Media Films in the case. David Halberstadter and Rebecca Faye Ganz of LA firm Katten Muchin Zavis & Rosenman LLP represent Paramount and Melange.

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