Fifth Circuit Upholds Haynes and Boone Win for I’m Ready Productions Copyright Lawsuit

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Court Clarifies Copyright Jurisprudence in Opinion.

The precedent set with the appellate ruling helps define a very significant issue within copyright law.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed the successful Haynes and Boone, LLP representation of I’m Ready Productions in a copyright infringement case, making an important clarification of copyright jurisprudence in the process.

In its opinion, which has been designated for publication, the appellate court held that, if there is not an exclusive license, there may still be an implied non-exclusive license that can be created based on all the facts and circumstances, making clear that implied licenses can arise outside the context of a work-for-hire agreement. The opinion expressly clarified and reaffirmed the Fifth Circuit’s holding in Lulirama v. Axcess Broad. Servs., Inc., 128 F.3d 872, 879 (5th Cir. 1997).

“This was a great validation of our work at the trial court level on behalf of our Houston-based clients, I’m Ready Productions (IRP) and its founders, Je'Caryous Johnson and Gary Guidry,” said David Harper, the partner who led the Haynes and Boone team. “The precedent set with the appellate ruling helps define a very significant issue within copyright law.”

The appeal was argued by Dallas Associate Jason Bloom, who also second-chaired the trial. Houston Associate Christina Crozier and Dallas Associate Michelle Jacobs also assisted at trial and in the briefing to the Fifth Circuit.

After a two-week 2011 federal district court trial, a jury took only two hours to return a unanimous verdict denying all claims brought by author and nationally syndicated radio host Michael “The Bad Boy” Baisden against IRP.

The Fifth Circuit affirmed that IRP had not infringed Baisden's copyrights of his books, "Men Cry in the Dark" and "Maintenance Man" by distributing videos of the IRP stage-plays of the same names with distributor Image Entertainment.

It also found that IRP and Baisden had valid agreements allowing the distribution of the videos and that Baisden was not owed any money for that distribution. In addition, it ruled that a tour of "Men Cry in the Dark" was authorized by Baisden in 2005. The defense team showed during trial that Mr. Baisden promoted the tour on his show. Finally, appeals court concurred with the jury’s denial of Baisden's claim that IRP had misappropriated his name without his permission in connection with the videos and 2005 tour.

All claims were also denied against Image Entertainment, which was the distributor of the IRP videos, and ALW Entertainment, the promoter of IRP's 2002 and 2003 tours of "Men Cry" and "Maintenance Man." Haynes and Boone represented ALW Entertainment at trial and all appellees, including ALW Entertainment and Image Entertainment, on appeal.

Before trial, Baisden had claimed $15 million in damages, but the court threw out $12 million in claimed movie damages. At trial, Baisden claimed about $4.5 million in damages.
The original case was Civil Action No. 4:08-CV-00451. At the Fifth Circuit, it is No. 11-20290.

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).

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Linh Le
Haynes and Boone, LLP
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