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Sunday, May 19, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Italian Producers Sue Over Rights to Pope Film

BROOKLYN (CN) - An Italian production company has accused American producers and distributors of swiping the rights to the film "Pope John Paul II: A Saint for Our Times," in Federal Court.

Producers Alida Vallini and Davide Leinardi of the Italian company LD of Leinardi Davide say they struck a deal with Gustavo Sagastune, president of Florida-based International Media, to produce the film.

The Italian producers allegedly agreed to supply all production materials and contacts, and Sagastune would hook them up with major distributors in the United States.

They further agreed that the film's copyright, once acquired by Vallini and Leinardi, would be transferred to ADG International, a company Sagastune was supposed to form in Florida. They would then split ownership of ADG International, with the Italian producers owning half and Sagastune owning the other half, the lawsuit states.

But Sagastune never founded the company, the plaintiffs claim, and instead transferred the exclusive rights to his own company through a forged copyright document.

The Italian filmmakers say they didn't find out that the document was false or that ADG International had never been created until early 2008.

Vallini and Leinardi also learned that International Media had gone behind their backs and signed distribution contracts with Koch Entertainment, Sandra Carter Global and Forrest Incentives, the complaint states.

The Italian producers demand $3 million from Sagastune, the three distributors, International Media and Dreamtime Entertainment, which allegedly distributed the film online. They also sued John Biffar, a Dreamtime shareholder with decision-making power.

Vallini and Leinardi demand an injunction, accounting, the destruction of all infringing copies of the film and $3 million in damages for copyright infringement, breach of contract and unfair competition.

They are represented by Alexander Sediva with Marzano & Sediva in New York.

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