*On Monday, a jury in Houston Federal Court reached a mixed verdict in the copyright infringement lawsuit filed by nationally syndicated radio and TV personality Michael Baisden against a company led by Houston playwright Je’Caryous Johnson.
The outcome allows for the return of Baisden’s copyrighted rights and allows the best-selling author to proceed with upcoming movie and television projects. However, the jury did not award him financial compensation.
In the lawsuit, Baisden claimed damages from I’m Ready Productions and Image Entertainment – headed by Je’Caryous Johnson and Gary Guidry – for the unauthorized distribution of DVD’s based on two of his novels. I’m Ready Productions filed a counterclaim against Baisden seeking compensation related to a movie based on one of Baisden’s best-sellers that the radio host had originally planned to write and produce.
In the original lawsuit, I’m Ready argued that it had all rights to the stage-play versions of Baisden’s books, “The Maintenance Man” and “Men Cry in the Dark.” Documents filed in the case also showed that I’m Ready Productions was marketing movie rights to the books and entered into an agreement with Image Entertainment to do a film from one of the stageplays.
The court had previously rejected I’m Ready’s arguments that it had the right to sell Baisden’s movie rights. After the court denied I’m Ready’s contention, the jury had to decide whether Baisden was entitled to monetary damages from the past conduct of the defendants. The jury also had to determine whether I’m Ready Productions was entitled to any compensation from Baisden’s upcoming movie deals on his copyrighted works. In the end, the jury answered no to both questions.
“I have mixed feelings about the case. On the one hand I am ecstatic that my copyrighted rights have been returned to me to allow me to proceed with upcoming movie and TV projects without continued interference from Image and I’m Ready Productions,” said Baisden. “On the other hand, I am disappointed that this jury did not punish the Defendants for their open infringement and award damages for their actions. I have asked my general counsel to proceed with an appeal of the jury’s findings as to the decision on the past conduct. The fight goes on, but I am excited to now be able to go forward with our movie and TV plans that had been put on hold for the last four years.”
Meanwhile, I’m Ready Productions released a statement yesterday calling the verdict “complete jury vindication on all claims.”
“This has been a heavy burden on our lives, both professionally and personally,” said Johnson. “We prayed every single day that God would see us through this. He did and he allowed the jurors to see the truth.”
The statement from “I’m Ready Productions” went on to plug some upcoming projects.
“This verdict means Johnson and Guidry can now focus all of their attention on their two current touring productions, Cheaper to Keep Her, starring Vivica A. Fox and Brian McKnight, and Marriage Material, starring Allen Payne, Jill Marie Jones and T-Boz from the platinum selling group TLC,” the statement read.