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Jules Jordan Video, Inc. v. 144942 Canada Inc.

Ashley Gasper is an adult movie actor who performs under the stage name Jules Jordan, and is the president and sole shareholder of Jules Jordan Video (“JJV”), the creator of the videos in which Gasper appears. He and his company sued defendants 144942 Canada, Inc., d/b/a Kaytel Video Distribution (“Kaytel”), Leisure Time Video Canada, Inc. (“Leisure Time”), Alain Elmaleh, the principal shareholder of each of the corporate defendants (collectively the “Kaytel defendants”), Jacky’s One Stop and the other defendants named in this consolidated appeal. Gasper alleged that the Kaytel defendants had copied and sold thirteen copyrighted adult DVDs owned by JJV or Gasper and featuring Gasper’s performances (the “JJV action”). The complaint alleged claims for copyright infringement, contributory copyright infringement, violation of unfair business practice, unfair competition under California law, false and misleading advertising, and violation of Gasper’s right of publicity. The claims for unfair business practices and false advertising were dismissed prior to trial, leaving only the claims for copyright infringement based on the replication and distribution of the thirteen DVDs, and the claim for violation of Gasper’s right of publicity under California law.

After a lengthy and contentious trial, the jury returned a verdict for plaintiffs on both issues. After the verdict the court granted the Kaytel defendants’ motion for judgment as a matter of law (“JMOL”) in part, concluding that neither Gasper nor JJV had standing to assert the copyright claims, and denied plaintiffs’ motion for JMOL. The court rejected the Kaytel defendants’ claim that Gasper’s right of publicity claim was preempted by copyright law. Both parties have appealed. We disagree with the district court on both issues, concluding that Gasper’s right of publicity claim is preempted by the Copyright Act, but that Gasper and JJV had standing to assert the copyright claims in question.

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