BOSTON (CN) – World Wide Video has sued Yoko Ono and a man to whom she allegedly paid $300,000 for rights to videotapes of her and John Lennon made in 1970. World Wide claims it owns rights to the film used in the movie “Portrait,” and that Ono did not use due diligence before buying the bogus rights to it from Anthony Pagola, who, World Wide says, knows the videos were stolen.
This story is taken from the federal complaint, which states:
Anthony Cox shot four days of videos – 24 videotapes – of Ono and Lennon in 1970. In 1983, Cox copyrighted the videotapes and the documentary movie, “Portrait.” Cox assigned the rights to his own corporation, Lexon, in 1996, which in January 2000 assigned the copyright to John Fallon and Robert Grenier, and also sold them 10 ¾-inch high-quality Beta copies of the original tapes. In March 2000, Fallon and Grenier assigned the rights to World Wide Video.
“Thereafter John Messina stole the 24 original tapes and the 10 ¾-inch beta tapes,” the complaint states. World Wide sued Messina for this in June 2000, and Messina was represented in Middlesex Superior Court by attorney John K. Buck.
In April 2001, the parties settled and Messina “agreed to return a set of 10 ¾-inch broadcast videotapes and use his best efforts to obtain the original set of 24 tapes.”
“In June 2001, Pagola approached Fallon and Grenier and advised that he represented a Hong Kong corporation, Magellen (sic) Trading Company. Pagola threatened to destroy the rapes unless World Wide Video entered into an agreement with Magellan (sic) for the purpose of finding a third party to purchase the tapes.”
World Wide and Magellen made a deal on June 12, 2001, “which provided Magellen with a six month period to ‘find a third party to purchase the Tapes for the purpose of development and production of a full length documentary motion picture …'”
In March 2002, Pagola, World Wide and Magellen extended the terms of the agreement until June 1, 2002, “and agreed to transfer Magellen’s rights to Innervision, Inc., a Delaware Corporation ostensibly controlled by Pagola. Thereafter, Pagola and Buck entered into a conspiracy to solicit the sale of the videotapes and copyright to Ono.”
On May 17, 2002, Ono agreed to pay $300,000 in “an agreement in which ‘Robert Grenier,’ ‘John Fallon,’ and ‘World Wide Video, LLC’ purported to transfer all right, title and interest of Grenier, Fallon and World Wide Video in the John Lennon films, which were owned by World Wide Video,” the complaint states.
It continues: “Pagola and Buck created the May 17, 2002 document purporting to transfer title of the videotapes and copyright to Ono. Pagola and Buck forged the signatures of ‘Robert Grenier,’ and ‘John Fallon,’ on the May 17, 2002 agreement. … In connection with this transfer, Buck falsely represented to Ono’s attorneys that he represented World Wide Video.”
Buck filed for bankruptcy in Massachusetts last year. World Wide says it never hired him to represent it in regard to the film. World Wide says it never authorized sale of any rights to the films and never got any money from such a sale.
Ono, therefore, is not accused of any skullduggery – only of failing to exercise due diligence before buying the films, or verifying that Buck represented World Wide, or verifying the signatures on the contract.
This tangled web began unraveling when World Wide arranged to show the Lennon film under the title “3 Days in the Life” at the Global Entertainment and Media Summit in April 2005. On April 13, 2005, Ono’s attorney wrote the Summit organizer, claiming that Ono owned right to that film, and threatening to sue for copyright infringement.
“World Wide Video learned, for the first time, on or about April 13, 2005, that its copyright had been violated by the unauthorized sale of the film and copyright.”
World Wide filed copyright claims against Pagola and Ono, accuses Pagola of fraud and Ono of conversion. It is represented by Joseph Doyle of Quincy, Mass.