Millennium Entertainment Sued by ‘Boys & Girls Guide’ Filmmaker Over Distribution

"Boys & Girls Guide to Getting Down" co-writer/director/producer claims that Millennium has been distributing the film without permission

Last Updated: September 26, 2012 @ 4:44 PM

The co-writer/director/producer of the 2006 indie film "The Boys & Girls Guide to Getting Down" has filed a lawsuit against Millennium Entertainment, claiming that Millennium is  illegally distributing the film.

In the suit, filed last week in U.S. District Court in Central California, Paul Sapiano alleges that Millennium has given his work to "retailers, broadcasters and has entered into sub-license agreements with other sub-distributors for the sale and display of the work without authorization."

Also read: "Hurt Locker" Producer Sues 5,000 Online Pirates

The suit alleges copyright infringement, contributory copyright infringement and unfair competition. In addition to asking that Millennium be enjoined from further distributing the film, Sapiano is asking that all materials to which he claims to hold copyright be seized from Millennium.

Sapiano is also asking for statutory damages from each defendant — in addition to Millennium, the suit names 10 anonymous defendants — of $30,000 each, or $150,000 "if such acts of infringement are found to be willful."

Millennium claims to have acquired the film — a hybrid documentary-narrative exploration of young people's social lives — from First Look Studios in 2007 when First Look's creditors sold off the company's film library to Millennium, Thomas E. Ho'okano, Sapiano's lawyer, told TheWrap.

Ho'okano said that First Look, which is now dissolved, had no agreement with Sapiano or his company, Boys and Girls Guide, LLC (BGG, LLC).

Sapiano sent a cease and desist letter to Millennium, which Millennium ignored, Ho'okano said.

Millennium has not yet responded to TheWrap's request for comment.

In addition to directing, producing and co-writing the film, Sapiano claims to have copyright ownership of the film.

In the suit, he also claims that Millennium — which distributes titles including the Lee Daniels film "The Paperboy" and "A Little Bit of Heaven," starring Kate Hudson — has illegally distributed other titles.

"Plaintiffs are informed and believe and on that basis allege that Millennium has a catalog of over 600 films which it continues to distribute and among those films, including plaintiff's work, are films which it has no right to distribute in violation of copyright laws," the suit reads.

Ho'okano told TheWrap that the other films would likely be other titles sold by First Look's creditors.

"I view this suit as a 'David vs. Goliath,'" Ho'okano said. "The principal at issue is: Can Millennium sell, duplicate, distribute the film without paying a fee to the copyright holder? BGG, LLC has not received a dime from the film."

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.