Million Dollar Fine For Producers Definitive Elvis DVD Set

In what is considered a significant monetary judgment for copyright infringement lawsuits, the United States District Court in Los Angeles has awarded plaintiffs Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc. (EPE), SOFA Entertainment, Inc. and songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller $2.8 million in damages and attorneys fees to be paid by Passport International Productions, Inc. (a/k/a Passport Video, Inc.) and its owner, Dante Pugliese. The case began in 2002 when, without permission and against numerous express objections, Passport manufactured and sold a set of eight DVDs entitled "25th Anniversary Elvis: The Definitive Collection August 16, 1977 - August 16, 2002," otherwise entitled "The Definitive Elvis." The 16-hour set included copyrighted works and the rights of publicity owned by Plaintiffs. In reaching its decision, the Court agreed that Passport released the set with the full knowledge that Plaintiffs did not consent to the unauthorized use of their copyrighted material, and that their activities would mislead consumers and damage Plaintiffs. Passport appealed the case up to the 9th Circuit, claiming "Fair Use," arguing that the set was a documentary look at the life of Elvis Presley. The Court did not agree in a 2005 ruling, and the decision successfully delineated the limits of the Fair Use defense. “This is a landmark decision for all of us,” stated Gary Hovey, Executive Vice President of Entertainment/Music Publishing for Elvis Presley Enterprises. “We are delighted with the Court’s ruling, the damages awarded and the precedent it sets.” The copyrighted materials included Presley home movies owned by EPE, material from “The Ed Sullivan Show,” and portions of “Ed Sullivan Rock & Roll Classics – Elvis Presley,” owned by SOFA Entertainment, a producer of movies, videos and television programs. Other unauthorized material was from the EPE owned “The Elvis 1968 Comeback Special (a/k/a "The Singer Special,”) “Aloha From Hawaii,” and “Elvis In Concert,” which also include songs written by Leiber & Stoller. “It is reassuring to know that the courts have seen fit to uphold our copyrights thereby putting unscrupulous parties on notice that historic performances from ‘The Ed Sullivan Show,’ cannot be used by those who prefer to steal rather than to license,” commented Andrew Solt of SOFA Entertainment. “We are very pleased with the court’s informed decision.” “Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller have always supported the ownership and protection of intellectual property,” said Randy Poe, President of Leiber & Stoller Music Publishing. “This ruling puts on notice anyone wishing to improperly claim ‘Fair Use,’ rather than acquiring permission from the copyright owner.” George R. Hedges of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges, LLP successfully argued the case for the Plaintiffs. The Definitive Elvis is the biggest selling Elvis DVD in Australia. It was the #1 selling Music DVD in 2002 and has been released in ordinary and limited edition "Gold" editions.
Source: EPE - Elvis Presley Enterprises / Updated: Feb 16, 2007 
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mature_elvis_fan75 (profilecontact) wrote on Feb 19, 2007report abuse
As for elvis on tour, ernst and crew have missed there chance,the importers have put out great sounding discs,while they wait around, saying well wait for mgm? as for the dvd from on tour, i really dont see that happening, youll do good to get the original on dvd! Elvis on tour cd set should have been put out on 30th anniversary or at least by this year! but everything now comes from ftd, so when we do get a on tour show it will have no liner notes?
Lefty (profilecontact) wrote on Feb 18, 2007report abuse
We all know that EPE has no intention of releasing Elvis In Concert, and I think it's a shame. Unlike On Tour, EPE does own the In Concert material and they can do with it as they please. I understand that they want to protect his image, but then how do they justify the official Elvis "rubber ducky" and the other cheesy products? If they really want to protect his image, make the effort and release a well produced, comprehensive, Elvis In Concert DVD/CD package. Make it an official part of his history. In regards to On Tour, can't we at least get the Hampton Concert released on CD? They already released the show from Texas that was filmed for On Tour. Anyway, I'm happy to get what is available. Things are far better now than they were twenty years ago.
SendToTodd (profilecontact) wrote on Feb 18, 2007report abuse
Is it right that EPE should protect their rights? Yes, of course it is. Is it right that SonyBMG can release all pre-1973 material without paying EPE a cent? Yes of course it is, because Elvis & the Colonel made a deal to sell the "family silver" at a time when both parties needed funds. If Elvis and the Colonel made mistakes, then accept it. None of us can re-write history, but we can make the best of what we have, and we all should do it with Elvis' best integrity remaining intact. Is it right that any record company can release Elvis material pre-the 50 year EC copyright legislation? Well within the EC , yes it is. Live with it. There is a problem within all commercial institutions and it is one of not being in a position to have a vision. There is a wealth of archive material which will never see the light of day because "the powers that be" are looking for the million dollar deal, and there is not, and never will be that deal, not now not ever. But within the Elvis community there are fans who have the skill and talent, and are willing to work for free to enable us all to enjoy the treasures of the Elvis archives.
mature_elvis_fan75 (profilecontact) wrote on Feb 17, 2007report abuse
So were is there anthology set? as for on tour im ver aware that they dont own that, as for Elvis in concert,thats not going to happen on dvd,and no its not because they wont to respect elvis etc, it because they think somehow it will loose buyers for other elvis merchandise,and no i dont think its becuase of lise maria who doesnt defend her daddy,and will go on any show that help promote her so called music cd's or whatever else shes in volded with!
Steve V (profilecontact) wrote on Feb 17, 2007report abuse
I think the people that state their fustrations below realize EPE does not own the movies and other things like the 50's TV appearances. I even state that in my whining complaint. But how come all these movies came out on VHS in 1985 for Elvis's 50th in a major campaign by MGM? Was it because the fan base was much younger then and MGM/UA/Turner could see the profit margin? Alas, some of use arent around anymore and maybe they dont think its a profitable thing to do anymore. I for one cant see anyone under 50 lining up to buy Kissin Cousins when it comes out on DVD. But if they could put the movies out 20+ yrs ago, why not now? Do it for those of us still able to enjoy them. As for EPE, the fans want a definitive DVD boxset and quality products. It is time! No more Elvis By The Presleys and stuffed animals. There are those of us still left who want Elvis to be remembered for his contributions, not for how he decorated Graceland.
EspenK (profilecontact) wrote on Feb 17, 2007report abuse
Thank heavens that insightful people like Martin DJ visit this site now and then.
Martin DJ (profilecontact) wrote on Feb 17, 2007report abuse
For those who still don't know or have a very short memory span: EPE does not own Elvis On Tour and thus cannot be blamed for not releasing a special (or even regular) version of the film on DVD. Furthermore: it's not as easy as it sounds, putting together a special edition of the film, featuring complete concerts. The film cameras that were used contained rolls of film that lasted 15 minutes. If, at the beginning of a concert, all the cameras started rolling at the same time, they all ran out of film after fifteen minutes and had to be reloaded. The only way to film a complete concert was to have the cameras start rolling at different times. Also, it's very time consuming and costly to synchronise audio and images. That said, those who DO own Elvis On Tour ought to have learned from the success of The Comeback Special and Aloha From Hawaii that it might be profitable to make the effort.
Steve V (profilecontact) wrote on Feb 17, 2007report abuse
I agree with most of the comments here. While there has been some nice stuff out on DVD, it's been 30 years and EPE should do all they can to bring it all out. I've heard the promises since the Esposito home movies also. Where are they? A few minutes of home movies here & there in bad documentaries like Elvis by the Presleys! We need an official anthology put out by the estate so that there will never be a need for another one. Let's outdo the Beatles here. We need Elvis On Tour out with outtakes. We need the movies out with special editions (prob not EPE's fault here). We need Elvis In Concert out to complete the TV history. All of this hasn't happened yet and the fan base is aging. I am so sick of snippets of things inserted in lame projects.
Santa Claus (profilecontact) wrote on Feb 17, 2007report abuse
I remember when EPE suited Joe Esposito because of his video "My Homemovies of Elvis". Reason for that was: EPE wanted to produce a homemovies video, too. Well, maybe I missed something but I don't have the EPE Homemovies in my collection yet...despite the fact the announcement was made 15 years ago. When it came to the "Great Performances" trilogy rumor had it that there would be a video with unreleased (but filmed) movie songs (like "Lonely Man" and "I Don't Want To"). Never ever happened. Beside the 68er Comeback and Aloha Box..what did EPE Enterprises give us fans? When it came to "Elvis In Hollywood" they peed their panties because the 10 seconds of unreleased movie outtakes they included were soooo expensive. What good is a company like that for me? We are still depending on Tunzi's b/w books instead of getting new unreleased coffee-table books from them. At Oprah's show Lisa opened the door to a hidden room underground Graceland where they store all the rare stuff. May everything rot there in peace. They sell Tunzi's books at Graceland because they are too lazy to bring out stuff themself. Long live the bootleggers and the guys who steal material to produce high quality collectors stuff. Without them the Elvis legacy wouldn't be where it is now.
Anton (profilecontact) wrote on Feb 17, 2007report abuse
It is a financial victory for EPE but "not", repeat NOT for elvis fans worldwide: all they want out of our King's materials is money. It's business for Sillerman, Soden a.o.But who really suffer are the loyal elvis fans who want good material that would sell zillions of copies and we don't get it, because, again" for money reasons". Passport did a remarkable professional job and we agree with Greg, it should be public domaine by now (all of Elvis' apprearances, not the whole of the, TV shows). So that is where we have been requesting, insisting and demanding EPE Mgmt for a super long DVD of those 12 city concerts Elvis gave in 1972 (filmed by MGM). Jerry Schilling could do a real good job editing the 200 hours of film and give us, under control of EPE Mgmt, a fabulous new document of perhaps 3 hours long of only Elvis singing on stage in those various cities his songs (no interviews, no commercial nonsense that the MGM smartasses put in before - just our King singing OK) Such a DVD of 3 hours could be marketed to EP fans thru EPFanClubs like BMG does with FTD. Now, the DVD should then be accompanied by a double or 3CDBox on FTD label with all the songs and concert materials on it PLUS the already bootlegged and EonTour movie-songs ! Pre-sales to 450,000 hardcore elvis fans should exceed all expenctations by EPE, BMG, CKXE/Sillerman, Turner/MGM and Warner. Much better sales results than the formats that were used and commercialized for Elvis TV show 69 and Aloha 73 TV show !! The comments of those hardcorefans reading our innovative marketing recommendations would be very welcome. Lex,Peter,Chris, Greg, Midnight Rider, Rob, Ernst, Roger, Hubert let us know
Brian Quinn (profilecontact) wrote on Feb 17, 2007report abuse
An excellent result for EPE. The definitive Elvis Anthology has long been in production by EPE and therefore it is only right that 'bootleggers' should not be allowed to jump on the bandwagon. When the EPE Anthology is finally released I am sure it will be first rate. The trouble is that Elvis is still so popular any Anthology when released will virtually be out of date by the time it hits the stores.
Greg Nolan (profilecontact) wrote on Feb 17, 2007report abuse
Well, the makers did play fast and loose with copyrighted material. Let's face it, while a case could be made that the '50s TV shows of '56 and '57 ought to be public domain (as audio is in Europe) but "Aloha" and the 1968 "Singer" comeback special ("Elvis") surely are still within private ownership. That said, in the big picture, I agree with you all and PASSPORT VIDEO did a terrific job on this set. I bought it awhile ago, knowing this legal case was winding through the courts. Those of you who have missed it, you'd better grab buy one while you can still find it. I even plan to rewatch it again someday. It was well-done.
GeeBee (profilecontact) wrote on Feb 16, 2007report abuse
This is reminiscent of the firewall Parker set up on Elvis' recording music! In the end, Elvis was hurt more than anyone else by Parker's restrictions. The statements at the end of this article regarding the popularity of this "Definitive" set only goes to show what can be done with regard to presenting a good documentary on Elvis IF the powers that be will only cooperate. I understand artists and others wanting to protect what is theirs, but I would love to see some cooperation amongst those who hold rights to Elvis related material so that quality productions like this can be produced. Once again, the end goal, seems to have gotten lost along the way -- the end goal should be to promote and present Elvis in the best way possible. This DVD certainly took steps towards that end. This lawsuit will certainly take leaps towards stopping anyone else from making a similar attempt.
Mielvis (profilecontact) wrote on Feb 16, 2007report abuse
Here's what's in it for you. EPE can continue to charge inflated fees for anything they choose to release, and not release things that should have been out years ago. After all sad as it is Elvis has been dead for almost 30 years and us fans who were there then are dying off also. That said I want my Elvis On Tour everything out NOW!
Mystery Rider (profilecontact) wrote on Feb 16, 2007report abuse
So whats in it for me? and whats init for the fans? and whats init for Elvis? the answer is nothing. Its all for Greed and the Lawyers.

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