Saturday, April 20, 2024

Michael Jackson Estate Sues Over Website, Mrs. Jackson’s Book, More


It’s about freaking time.

The estate of Michael Jackson, represented by Howard Weitzman, has filed suit against Howard Mann and all his pseudonyms and DBAs.

The suit is all about Mann’s alleged copyright infringement: his jacksonsecretvault website, the picture book by Katherine Jackson called “Never Can Say Goodbye,” a recently announced Michael Jackson lithograph collection, and even the release of a “new” song last fall that turned out to be a remix of the Jacksons record “Destiny.”

Mann, if you recall, bought the contents of a warehouse of Jackson family memorabilia after its owner, Henry Vaccaro, filed for bankruptcy. Mann, who runs gambling websites out of Canada, then made a deal with Katherine Jackson to exploit the contents of the website. That included publication of “Never Can Say Goodbye.”

Mann always took the position–especially in talks with this reporter–that because he owned the physical contents of the warehouse he also owned the intellectual property rights–despite the fact that both the Jackson estate and Sony probably superseded him.

Mann kept pushing the envelope, using his relationship with Katherine Jackson as a shield. But now the estate, run by John Branca, has finally responded. The lawsuit is 53 pages long and quite explicit. In other words: the party is over.

The Estate calls Mann’s actions “rampant misuse of Estate assets” that has caused “consumer confusion.” Indeed, Mann thanks the Estate on his website, which the suit says makes it seem as though they condone and endorse him.

In a way, the estate is now exhibiting a little muscle in the direction of Katherine Jackson, whom they’ve supported financially since the day Michael died. Mann has always stated–including to me–that Mrs. Jackson was in need of funds becausde the estate was shortchanging her. How Mann replies to this lawsuit will be interesting, certainly.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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