Howard Mann became a partner with Katherine Jackson after Michael’s death, and produced a book with her, but in doing so, used illegal images of Michael. As those images belong exclusively to Michael’s Estate, they were used in breach of copyright laws. The Estate sued Howard Mann, who refused to settle the case for $2million.
Mann is the CEO of Vintage Pop Media, which operated the website www.michaeljacksonsecretvault.com until it was ordered shut down last month by a federal judge who ruled the site violated copyrights controlled by the singer’s estate.
Under the terms of the settlement, announced in court by estate attorney Zia Modabber, Vintage Pop Media Group is responsible for $2 million of the judgment, while the entity Vintage Associates LLC is responsible for the remainder. Vintage Associates is the custodian of the items that were at issue in the case. Mann’s attorney, Lee Durst, declined comment after the hearing. “The estate is delighted this matter is behind us,” estate attorney Howard Weitzman said.
Among the items that had been improperly used were images from Michael’s posthumous film ‘This Is It’ and a silhouette of the singer dancing in ‘Smooth Criminal.’ The settlement also blocks the usage of materials from ‘Thriller’ that had appeared on Mann’s website.
A jury trial on how much Mann owes the estate had been scheduled to begin Tuesday, with an expert estimating a license for the works is worth between $5 million and $12 million.
Mann’s attorneys rejected a settlement offer last week of $2 million. They sought to introduce evidence that they were given bad legal advice about having to license the works and have considered calling Katherine Jackson as a witness. U.S. District Judge Dean D. Pregerson has noted that Mann doesn’t appear to have the resources to pay a large judgment. The defendants’ ability to pay was not discussed in court on Tuesday
Source: Washington Post & MJWN