Bluebird Must Pay Private $230K; Distro Deal Reinstated

LOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles Superior Court judge has ruled that Bluebird America Inc. must pay Private Media Group $230,000 and hand over past, present and future worldwide distribution rights of Bluebird content.

The breach-of-contract case decided last month has its roots in a five-year exclusive distribution deal inked in September 2009, where Private was appointed by Bluebird as the global exclusive distributor of its existing library and all future releases on nearly all platforms, including DVD, IPTV, web and mobile.

The distribution deal at the time was regarded as a blockbuster move between the companies — Private, one of the top distributors in the biz, and Bluebird, with its high-quality elegant content.

Bluebird, at the time of the Private deal, said it had in excess of 175 unreleased titles and that it had a production schedule that would average 10 new adult films per month.

But a year into the contract, Private made claims that Bluebird owner Paul Baxendale was double dipping.

The Barcelona-based company alleged in a complaint that Baxendale had attempted to exploit Bluebird content further by selling distribution rights to third-party companies. Private further contended that Baxendale attempted to set up shell licensee companies to peddle the Bluebird films.

Last month, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mark Mooney entered a judgment against Bluebird, reinstating Private’s exclusive distribution agreement retroactively.

As a result of the judgment, Private is planning to send notices to distributors of Bluebird content, alerting them about the judgment and what to do next.

In a draft letter obtained by XBIZ, Private plans on communicating to Bluebird distributors and payment processors that distribution of Bluebird content can continue but that all payments to Bluebird or its affiliates must cease immediately.

Private said in the letter that it is not looking for retroactive compensation, saying it would be unfair and unreasonable.

But it emphasized that  all fees for licenses or goods relating to Bluebird-branded content or its back catalog should be directed to Private to satisfy the judgment.

The letter asks recipients to contact Private counsel in Barcelona within 10 business days.

Launched by Baxendale in 2006, Bluebird entered the adult arena to become the U.K.'s largest adult company with two sprawling studios in North America and Europe, including five soundstages where the company made use of state-of-the-art HD equipment.

Baxendale, who also goes by the name Paul Chaplin, even launched Bluebirds Magazine, distributed in the U.K.

In May, however, Baxendale changed his course away from the business of adult production, saying that he would focus on his newly acquired lad publication, Loaded. He said he was retiring to "do other things, including, of course, steering Loaded magazine into a new generation of life."

Baxendale did not immediately reply to XBIZ queries on the judgment over Bluebird content. Private officials declined comment on the case.