Mel Gibson's film distribution group is suing a Los Angeles post-production firm, alleging that its employees illegally passed along copies of the movie "The Passion of the Christ" to journalists, fri

NEW YORK--Mel Gibson's film distribution group is suing a Los Angeles post-production firm, alleging that its employees illegally passed along copies of the movie "The Passion of the Christ" to journalists, friends and file-sharing services.

Gibson's company, Icon Distribution gave Lightning Media a master copy of the film in September 1993. Lightning was allowed to make several copies but was required to return the master to Icon.

Gibson alleges that Lighting workers made unauthorized copies of the film while doing post-production work and then circulated the copies to their friends.

According to the complaint, the copies then found their way to film critics at filmstew.com and the New York Post, which ran a story on the reactions of five people they asked to watch the movie.

The complaint states that illegal copies of "The Passion" may also have appeared on morpheus.com and kazaa.com.

Icon is seeking an injunction to halt distribution of the copies and an unspecified amount in damages.

Case: Icon Distribution v. Lightning Media and Does 1-10

Cite: US CD California CV 04-1476 JSL

Plaintiff Attorneys: George R. Hedges and William G. Berry of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges