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Arrow, V.C.X. Settle 'Deep Throat'/'Debbie Does Dallas' Case

Both sides agree to 'split the baby" with each getting full rights to one movie

Arrow, V.C.X. Settle 'Deep Throat'/'Debbie Does Dallas' Case

LAS VEGAS—In what appears to be the final settlement in a legal case that's just two years old, but a controversy that's stretched back at least into the 1980s, Raymond Pistol, owner of Arrow Productions, and David Sutton, owner of V.C.X., have agreed to settle the long-running dispute over ownership of the world-famous classic XXX movies Deep Throat and Debbie Does Dallas that actually began with Pistol's predecessor, Louis Peraino.

According to a stipulation entered into by Pistol and Sutton, the parties agree that it was Peraino who personally hired and paid for Gerard Damiano to direct Deep Throat, and that "The author and therefore original copyright owner therefore was Peraino, individually."

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That's actually a heck of an admission, since back in 2009 when this suit was first filed, V.C.X. attorney Tim Riley argued that Peraino had never copyrighted the work, with Arrow attorney Clyde DeWitt countering that, "[t]he first time that Plaintiff [Arrow Productions] voluntarily relinquished control of any copy of the Deep Throat Motion Picture was on videotape, and those videotapes all included copyright notices."

Back in those days, the dispute also included the question of who owned another all-time classic, The Devil in Miss Jones, but there's just one mention of that movie in the current stipulation, and when contacted, DeWitt told AVN that he was contractually unable to discuss any aspect of the litigation at this time.

In any case, the stipulation goes on to recognize that back in 1972, the year Deep Throat was released, Peraino's agent erroneously registered the movie's copyright to "Plymouth Distributors," a company that did not exist, but in the stipulation, the parties agree that even so, Peraino still maintained a personal copyright on the movie until he sold it to Pistol along with Arrow Film & Video's other assets in 1996—despite the fact that some prints of Deep Throat had been circulated without a copyright notice. However, the bogus "Plymouth Distributors" copyright registration continued to disrupt later attempts to establish the movie's provenance.

"Thus, contrary to what VCX believed, Deep Throat was not put into the public domain by virtue of circulating prints without a copyright notice," the stipulation reads. "While there may have been prints of Deep Throat circulated without a copyright notice, those were amongst the many unauthorized prints that were made by the film lab without knowledge or authorization of Peraino or his corporation and sold illegally... Accordingly, Arrow owns a valid copyright on the motion picture Deep Throat."

While the stipulation is less than clear as to the reasons, it goes on to say that, apparently because Arrow now unequivocally owns Deep Throat, Arrow and its employees and affiliates are "permanently enjoined from ... [m]anufacturing, copying or otherwise reproducing or making any derivative work of Debbie Does Dallas in any tangible medium, whether now known or contemplated, including but not limited to DVD, videotape, and magnetic storage" and from "[g]ranting any license or accepting any licensing fee from any source for Debbie Does Dallas." Previously, both companies had marketed videotapes and DVDs of Debbie.

A similar stipulation was entered into regarding V.C.X. and Deep Throat.

"The issue involved an attack on Deep Throat," Allen Lichtenstein, another Arrow attorney, told Courthouse News. "We were set to go to court, but rather than go to the trouble and expense of a court battle, we came to an agreement. Even though Arrow had the right to say Debbie Does Dallas is in the public domain, and we can do what we want, it was not a big deal to us."

Slightly troubling is the agreement by both companies that, "The allegations in the complaint concerning ownership and validity of the copyrights and trademarks associated with the motion pictures Deep Throat and Devil in Miss Jones [another film which both companies have marketed and claimed ownership] are dismissed without prejudice," suggesting that either company could bring a further lawsuit over those properties.






Related Content:

VCX
Arrow Productions
Mark Kernes

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