Steven Paul Found Liable for Copyright Infringement Over Counterfeit DVDs

By Chanak Maduranga

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Steven Paul Found Liable for Copyright Infringement Over Counterfeit DVDs
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Producer Steven Paul — who is said to be among suitors to take control of Paramount Global and has a deal to co-produce and finance films with the National Amusement-controlled company — has been found liable for copyright infringement in a lawsuit accusing him of manufacturing and distributing counterfeit DVDs of faith-based film I Believe, a jury has concluded.

A Riverside jury on Thursday ordered Paul and his affiliated distribution companies Echo Bridge Acquisition Corp and SP Releasing to pay roughly $150,000 to independent production company, Harvest Aid, which brought the lawsuit.

In a statement, Echo Bridge vice president Matt Otto said the decision will be appealed. “Even though the amount is small and has no effect on our businesses, Echo Bridge is obviously disappointed in the result in this nuisance suit and we’re surprised at a jury decision contrary to the evidence,” he added. “We’ve never even been accused of pirating DVDs and it is unthinkable that we would ever do so especially when we have free access to real ones, as in this case. Occasionally juries get things wrong. I watched the trial, and this one of those unfortunate times.”

The defense moved for a mistrial, which will be considered at a July hearing.

SP Releasing didn’t respond to requests for comment.

In a statement, Stephen Doniger, a lawyer for Harvest Aid, said, “Our client is so appreciative of the jury’s time and hard work. We are thrilled to have been able to hold Defendants to account for their infringement of the film I Believe and hope this case sends a message that even independent film makers and other artists of limited means have recourse to protect their rights.”

Paul is widely known as producer of independent films, with credits on Baby Geniuses, Ghost Rider and Ghost in the Shell. In June, Paul’s group vying for control of Paramount sent a letter to National Amusements Inc. stating that he had the necessary funding to acquire a majority interest in the holding company, Bloomberg reported.

According to the complaint, Harvest Aid in 2017 entered into an exclusive distribution agreement with Wax Works to manufacture DVDs of I Believe. Wax Works subsequently agreed with Paul’s SP Releasing to sell DVDs of the movie at Walmart.

The lawsuit revolved around accusations that Paul and his companies made counterfeit DVDs after the first batch sold out at the retailer. Even though Harvest Aid only provided 39,400 authentic discs, accounting records showed that at least 46,000 DVDs were shipped to Walmart, according to the complaint. Some discs, however, were returned.

After counterfeit DVDs were returned from Walmart, the complaint also alleged that Paul resold them.

Chanak Maduranga

passionate journalist behind 'USA News Now 24', dedicated to delivering timely and accurate updates on US affairs. Committed to journalistic integrity and informing audiences with credible news coverage.

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