LOS ANGELES—It was a simple two-sentence letter sent by the Clerk of the U.S. Supreme Court to the Clerk of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and dated October 1, 2012. It read, "The court today entered the following order in the above-entitled case: The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied."
The petition at issue was filed by Canadian distributor Alain Elmaleh on behalf of himself and his companies, Kaytel Distribution and Leisure Time Canada, Inc., which in August of 2007 lost a video piracy case to Evil Angel Productions and Jules Jordan Video for having illegally duplicated various DVDs owned by the two American companies, with the jury originally awarding Evil Angel and Jordan what attorneys estimated to be more than $16 million, though by the trial court's reckoning the amount was closer to $11 million. AVN's reports on the original lawsuit and the progress of the eventual trial can be found here, here, here, here and here.
But even with the jury's verdict, the battle was far from over. Just one month after the verdict, Judge S. James Otero reduced the $11 million recovery by about one-third, to $7 million, due to what the production companies described as a technicality in the copyright laws. According to Judge Otero, that "technicality" revolved around his understanding that Jules Jordan Video was a subsidiary of Evil Angel Productions, since Evil Angel handled all distribution of Jules Jordan Videos, and therefore, Jordan could not succeed on his copyright claim. However, the judge ruled that Jordan would prevail on his "right of publicity" claim, since it was Jordan's name and image that appeared on the DVD boxes and contents that Elmaleh/Kaytel pirated.
Thus, the stage was set for two appeals: One by Elmaleh to overturn all of the verdicts, and the other by Jordan, seeking to reinstate the jury's verdict on his copyright violation claim. That latter appeal took three years to wind its way through the court system, but almost exactly three years after the jury verdict, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals did reverse Judge Otero's rulings on Jordan's claim, finding that Jules Jordan Video was indeed an independent company and thus entitled to recover for Kaytel's piracy ... but it also ruled that Jordan himself, as an employee of the company, did not have an independent "right of publicity" claim, but that such a claim should be included in the company's copyright victory.
In the meantime, Evil Angel's Stagliano had continued settlement talks with Elmaleh, and in May of 2008, the two litigants reached an agreement that Kaytel would pay Evil Angel an undisclosed amount "which effectively ends all pending litigations or potential appeals in the U.S. and Canada."
Jordan had no such settlement, however, and continued to fight Elmaleh's appeal, until his final victory two days ago in the Supreme Court, which opened the door for Jordan to demand payment of his full verdict against Kaytel, or in the alternative, the right to seize assets from the defendants sufficient to satisfy the judgment of the court.
At press time, Jordan was unavailable for comment on the victory, but his win stands as the largest recovery for DVD piracy of any adult producer in the history of the industry.