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Paramount Wins Fight Over ‘La Dolce Vita’

LOS ANGELES (CN) - The copyright battle pitted a Las Vegas media company against Paramount Pictures, weaving into the intrigue a pornographic version of Federico Fellini's "La Dolce Vita."

A federal judge in February drew the curtains on the wrangle to U.S. rights to Fellini's classic, awarding default judgment of $900,000 to Paramount.

Paramount claimed in Federal Court in November 2011 that International Media Films infringed on the copyright of "La Dolce Vita." The movie starring Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg follows the adventures in Rome of a journalist for a gossip magazine.

In addition to Ekberg's iconic role, the movie is famous for giving the world the term paparazzi, after the movie's fictional photographer, Paparazzo.

According to the studio's lawsuit, International Media sent cease-and-desist letters to Paramount, staking a claim of ownership in the movie.

Paramount said it had secured distribution rights through a deal with the movie's true owner, Melange Pictures.

International Media later alleged that its chain of title to the film rights originated from Cinemat's transfer of rights in 1980.

International Media questioned Paramount's right to distribute the movie, claiming that an earlier 1962 transfer was invalid.

But in June 2013, U.S. District Judge James Otero granted partial summary judgment to Paramount, finding International Media provided no convincing evidence that it holds chain of title to the film rights.

Six years before, International Media had tested its claims when it accused adult film production company Lucas Entertainment of making an unauthorized porn version of "La Dolce Vita" titled: "Michael Lucas' La Dolce Vita."

U.S. District Judge John Koeltl in New York found for Lucas in that trademark and copyright infringement case.

In a 2010 order, the U.S. Southern District of New York concluded that International Media had failed to prove that it owned rights to Fellini's film.

After Otero's 2013 ruling, Paramount filed a motion for default judgment for damages, and an order that International Media had contributed to the infringement of Paramount's copyright. The studio also asked Otero to enjoin the defendant from reproducing or distributing copies of the film.

On Feb. 18 this year, Otero granted Paramount's motion.

Otero judge found that International Media had never owned "La Dolce Vita," and had infringed on Paramount's copyright.

Otero ordered the Las Vegas-based company to pay $474,555.70 in damages, $13,599.40 in costs and $411,322.30 in attorney's fees, for a total judgment of $899,477.40.

Neither Paramount's attorney David Halberstadter nor International Media Films immediately responded to requests for comment.

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