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Court Confirms Jury Verdict in I'm Ready Productions Copyright Lawsuit
HOUSTON – On March 1, 2011, Houston-based production company I'm Ready Productions Inc. and its founders, Je'Caryous Johnson and Gary Guidry, won a jury verdict denying all of nationally-syndicated radio host Michael “The Bad Boy” Baisden's legal claims against them. On late Friday afternoon, March 25, the court issued its final judgment confirming the jury's verdict that Mr. Baisden take nothing on his claims against the defendants in the case. Further, the court granted I'm Ready key legal declarations of its rights to the disputed stage plays Maintenance Man and Men Cry in the Dark and authorized the production company and its distributor, Image Entertainment, to continue to distribute the videos of those stage plays.
In its ruling, the court declared that I'm Ready owns "the sole and exclusive copyright to the Maintenance Man stage play script, associated music, and lyrics" and that it "owns the sole and exclusive copyright to the script for its Men Cry in the Dark stage play."
The court found that Mr. Baisden and I'm Ready had entered into a valid and enforceable agreement in 2002, concerning the Maintenance Man stage play, and that the parties had agreed to extend a prior agreement related to the Men Cry in the Dark stage play in 2005, when the play toured.
The court further found that Image and I'm Ready entered into a valid licensing agreement for the distribution of the production videos while the Maintenance Man and Men Cry in the Dark agreements with Mr. Baisden were in effect. Importantly, this decision verified that I'm Ready and Image had the right to continue to distribute the videos through the duration of the Image-I'm Ready licensing agreement. Additionally, the court confirmed that the agreement between I'm Ready and Mr. Baisden provided that I'm Ready "shall owe no royalties to Baisden related to the future distribution" of the videos through the term of the I'm Ready-Image license agreement.
The December 2002 Maintenance Man agreement between Mr. Baisden and I'm Ready, which the court found to be valid and enforceable, provides that Mr. Baisden shall compensate I'm Ready if he ever conveys movie rights for the Maintenance Man movie. The court found that the parties' agreement states that "there is a presumption that the compensation will be $300,000.00", but the exact amount I'm Ready would be entitled to, whether more or less, would be subject to a fact based inquiry based on the terms of the agreement.
Finally, the court found that the defendants were the prevailing parties and that they were entitled to recover from Mr. Baisden all of their costs for this lengthy court battle.
"This was an important court ruling for I'm Ready,” said David Harper, lead trial counsel for I'm Ready and head of the Haynes and Boone, LLP Litigation Practice. “The court specifically confirmed I'm Ready's copyrights in its plays, confirmed the validity of I'm Ready's contracts with Mr. Baisden, approved the Image distribution agreement, and made clear that the distribution can go forward without any compensation to Mr. Baisden.”
Mr. Harper reiterated that these were all key points shown at the trial, accepted by the jury, and now confirmed by the trial court. “This decision brings great satisfaction to I'm Ready that it always was operating properly and within the terms of its agreements,” Mr. Harper said. “This ruling will allow them to go forward with their business knowing they are living within the terms of those contracts.”
About I’m Ready Productions, Inc.:
I’m Ready Productions, Inc. (”I’m Ready”) is a national, minority owned, theatre, television, feature film and music production company based in Houston. In 2007, I’m Ready won the NAACP Trailblazer award for being the first touring company to adapt an African-American romance novel for the stage. Founded in 1995 by executive producers Mr. Johnson and and Mr. Guidry, I’m Ready is known for its soul-stirring plays. Breaking box office records, more than two million people in over 50 cities have turned out for I’m Ready plays. From turning bestselling African-American novels into plays, to approaching Hollywood’s hottest stars for its productions, I’m Ready’s approach is fearless and outside-of-the-box, changing the face of American touring theatre.
About Haynes and Boone, LLP:
Haynes and Boone, LLP is an international corporate law firm with offices in Texas, New York, California, Washington, D.C., Mexico City and Moscow, providing a full spectrum of legal services. With more than 550 attorneys, Haynes and Boone is ranked among the largest law firms in the nation by The National Law Journal. The firm has been named one of the "Best Corporate Law Firms in America" (Corporate Board Member Magazine, 2001-2009) and recognized as a “Top 20 Law Firm” for culture and for diversity with respect to both women and minorities (Vault, 2011).