Michael Jackson Estate Settles Copyright Suit For $2.5M

By Joseph Mandour on September 4, 2012

dancing Los Angeles – The estate of the late pop star Michael Jackson struck a $2.5 million settlement deal Tuesday with a businessman working for Jackson’s mother, who the estate accused of operating a website that violated the estate’s copyrights by featuring Jackson’s likeness, lyrics, unreleased songs and other copyrighted assets without authorization.

Counsel for Jackson’s estate informed a California federal judge at a status conference that a settlement with Howard Mann and his companies had been reached, on the eve of a jury trial set to begin Tuesday, according to court documents.

The estate received judgments totaling $2.5 million, along with a permanent injunction, a declaratory judgment confirming the estate’s ownership of Michael Jackson’s personality and other intellectual property rights and collateral in certain assets to protect parts of the judgment, estate attorney Zia Modabber said.

“In light of the court’s rulings for the estate on summary judgment, this settlement seems appropriate for all concerned,” Modabber said.

The estate sued Mann and his companies in January 2011 over his website, michaeljacksonsecretvault.com, which the estate said in its complaint was “rife with illegal uses of Michael Jackson intellectual property assets.”

“In a manner that can only be described as an arrogant disregard for the estate’s rights and the law, defendants built a website whose sole purpose is to exploit the name, likeness, image, copyrights, trademarks and goodwill of Michael Jackson through products they sell for their own profit,” the complaint said.

Mann’s website allegedly posted photographs, artwork, sound recordings and printed song lyrics that infringed on the estate’s copyrights, including images from the film This Is It and video and liner notes from Thriller, according to the complaint.

The defendants also published a coffee table book, Never Can Say Goodbye, without the estate’s knowledge until its release, despite giving special thanks to the estate in the inside cover. The book includes five drawings Jackson created during his lifetime, according to the complaint.

Mann’s counsel reportedly refused to accept a $2 million settlement offer last week, according to the AP.

Attorneys for Mann and his companies did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment.

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