The estate of Elvis Presley has won an injunction in California Federal Appeals Court barring the further sale of the eight-DVD collection “The Definitive Elvis,” released this summer by Passport Video. A judge ruled that significant portions of the DVD infringed on copyrighted performances, including appearances Presley made on “The Ed Sullivan Show” and “The Steve Allen Show.” The video also made unauthorized use of songs written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, including “Jailhouse Rock” and “Loving You.”
“We, with the estate of Elvis Presley and Leiber & Stoller, have won an important battle against those who believe they can simply hijack our intellectual property while demonstrating total disdain for the law,” said Andrew Solt of SOFA Entertainment, which owns the rights to “The Ed Sullivan Show.”
“The Definitive Elvis” also featured a bonus CD entitled “Elvis In His Own Words,” featuring interviews and on-stage banter. A Web site advertising the DVD proclaims, “‘The Definitive Elvis’ is neither endorsed nor authorized by Elvis Presley.”
Passport attorney Michael R. Blaha says the company plans to appeal. “Over 99% of ‘The Definitive Elvis’ consists of original footage created and owned by Passport International, including over 230 interviews which Passport conducted over a two-year period,” he said in a statement. “Moreover, Passport made very limited, transformative, and we think under the law, fair use of the remaining less than 1% that constitutes [the alleged] copyrighted material. For the estate of Elvis Presley and the other [laintiffs to describe Passport’s use of their material as ‘unlawful’ or ‘piracy’ under these circumstances is ludicrous and ignores the important First Amendment considerations present here.”
RCA’s new collection of Presley favorites, “ELV1S: 30 #1 Hits,” has spent three weeks at No. 1 on The Billboard 200, but is expected to fall to Faith Hill’s “Cry” (Warner Bros.) on the new chart, released tomorrow (Oct. 24).