Book on celebrity-chasers may use unauthorized photos

ROME — Italy’s paparazzi are often the target of invasion-of-privacy lawsuits, but this time they’re the plaintiffs — in a legal battle with reps of the man who gave them international notoriety, Federico Fellini.

Fellini immortalized paparazzi in his 1960 classic of decadent Roman high life, “La Dolce Vita,” and among the observances of the milestone film’s 40th anniversary is a series of books is being published in Italy. One of these books has the country’s celebrity-chasing photographers shutterbugs fuming, claiming the use of their pictures is unauthorized.

Images at issue

Reporters Associati, which represents the photographers, took legal action in a Rome court last week against the Federico Fellini Foundation for its unremunerated use in the publication “40 Years of Dolce Vita” of photos taken on the set of the film. The photographers’ org claims it is owed roughly $20,000.

Most of the photos printed in the book were taken by Pierluigi Praturlon, who died last summer. Considered a maestro among paparazzi, Praturlon is credited by his associates as the inspiration for the famous scene in the film in which Anita Ekberg takes a latenight dip in the Trevi Fountain.

As recounted by the lawyer representing Reporters Associati, Praturlon convinced Ekberg to soothe her feet in the fountain after she turned an ankle on the Roman cobblestones during a photo shoot. He later showed the photos taken that evening to his friend Fellini, who re-created the scene a year later in “La Dolce Vita.”

Praturlon and other paparazzi of the 1950s and ’60s documented an entire era of Italian cinema in images. An estimated 70,000 photographic shoots captured the making of classic films and stars such as Marcello Mastroianni, Sophia Loren, Alberto Sordi, Toto and Monica Vitti. Some 32,000 photos were taken on the set of “La Dolce Vita” alone.

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