L-R: Haynes and Boone Attorney Jason Bloom, IRP Executive Producers Je'Caryous Johnson and Gary Guidry, Haynes and Boone Lead Attorney David Harper
HOUSTON -- I'm Ready Productions, Inc. (IRP) has just received complete jury vindication on all claims in the Michael Baisden v. I'm Ready Productions Inc. copyright infringement case filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division. In only two hours, the jury returned a unanimous verdict in favor of Houston-based production company, IÂm Ready Productions, Inc., ending a three and one-half year ordeal. The company, led by NAACP Award winning producers JeÂCaryous Johnson and Gary Guidry, had been embroiled in a legal battle with author and nationally syndicated radio host, Michael Baisden. Baisden claimed IRP violated federal copyright laws by touring a stage play without his permission and selling DVDs based on his novels, The Maintenance Man and Men Cry in the Dark.
"We give God all the glory in this victory," said Guidry. "We have been fighting this battle for a long time, and sometimes the road felt weary, but we knew God was on our side and truth would prevail."
The jury found that IRP had not infringed Baisden's copyrights in his books Men Cry in the Dark and The Maintenance Man by distributing videos of the IRP stage plays of the same names with distributor Image Entertainment. The jury also found that IRP and Baisden had valid agreements allowing the distribution of the videos and that no monies were due to Baisden for that distribution. In addition, the jury found that an additional tour of Men Cry in the Dark was indeed authorized by Baisden in 2005. In fact, the defense team showed during trial that Mr. Baisden promoted the tour on his radio show. Baisden's claim that IRP had misappropriated his name without his permission in connection with the videos and 2005 tour were also denied. Finally, the jury concluded that IRPÂs agreement with Baisden regarding The Maintenance Man was found to be valid and indeed entered into by Baisden. The agreement has specific motion picture rights associated with The Maintenance Man that IRP retained.
"This has been a heavy burden on our lives, both professionally and personally," added Johnson. "We prayed every single day that God would see us through this. He did and he allowed the jurors to see the truth."
Baisden had also filed claims against the distributor of the IRP videos, Image Entertainment, and the promoter of IRP's 2002 and 2003 tours of Men Cry and Maintenance Man, ALW Entertainment. All of those claims were denied as well.
"We are extremely gratified by the jury's verdict," said David Harper, head of Haynes and Boone's litigation section in Dallas and lead counsel for IRP, Johnson, Guidry and ALW Entertainment. "This case was hanging over Je'Caryous and Gary for the last three years and was very stressful for them and the company. The defense of the case, including attorneyÂs fees, expenses and expert fees, cost an estimated $2 million. The jury's verdict vindicates their character and confirms that the actions they took were in full compliance with their agreements. I am extremely happy for them and look forward to their great future." Jason Bloom of Haynes and Boone tried the case for IRP with Harper.
This verdict means Johnson and Guidry can now focus all of their attention on their two currently touring productions, Cheaper to Keep Her, starring Vivica A. Fox and Brian McKnight, andMarriage Material, starring Allen Payne, Jill Marie Jones and T-Boz from the platinum selling group "TLC." IRP also looks forward to future film and television projects that are currently in the works.
"We are grateful to be able to put this experience behind us and move onward and upward in bringing quality, entertaining, inspiring productions to people all over the country," Johnson said.