Music Lawsuits Move Beyond Music, Targeting Merchandising Cash Cows

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Each time I open my Google alerts I expect to see some new announcement about one of the majors suing yet another internet business for copyright infringement. I’m always curious to see who the perpetrators are and how the conflict will be resolved.

I love the headlines that blame the internet for the entire meltdown of music today. Sometimes it seems as though the internet created the new crime of copyright infringement. Alas, it seems as though the internet has spread the copyright virus to the ‘real world’. Most of the music business looks to touring and/or merchandising as the dominant source of profits, but even merchandise falls foul of copyright infringement.

TMZ.com recently reported that Bravado International Group filed suit against Dollar Days International, Alan Shrem and Kennedy-Shrem International for allegedly violating Bravado’s exclusive license to use the names and likeness of icons and top artists such as Michael Jackson, Jim Morrison, The Rolling Stones, Led Zepplin, Guns N’Roses, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and many others. Bravado believe each violation of their exclusive license is worth at least $2 million which could equate to tens of millions if not more. The suspected perpetrators were or are believed to be selling shirts, watches, posters and other merchandise without having the required license to do so.

Certainly Bravado would want to stake their claim when MJ hysteria is still at a high. Bravado recently inked the exclusive deal with the Jackson estate to offer an extensive collection of over 200 premium items many of which were created in collaboration with the late singer. Bravado claim that all other merchandise currently offered to the public are knock-off unofficial products. I am wondering how many cash strapped Michael lovers will care whether it is official or not? Perhaps the die hard fans with some spare cash or the few that have credit certainly will want something created by their favourite criminal. “Family friendly” retailers such as Hot Topic, Target, Old Navy and JCPenney, among many others are carrying the exclusive collection.

The details of the Bravado deals are unknown. It appears as though the Michael Jackson deal with AEG to act as the exclusive merchandiser for the Michael Jackson O2 shows in London lead to the more extensive exclusive deal with his estate in August to create, market and distribute Jackson related products on a global basis. It is also unclear whether there was a cease and desist order in advance of the current legal action. I also wonder whether artists or the artisans have experienced financial losses impacted by the alleged fraud.

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Angel Gambino is an entrepreneur and investor who has a wide range of experience working with innovative businesses that are developing and initiating high quality digital entertainment.

Discussion2 Comments

  1. your saying we cant buy Memorabilia for the mourning of MJs death unless it is licenced? sorry to say but no one who was offically licensed were selling affordable RIP memorabilia, or even selling such items PERIOD. PLUS, why target all the small businesses that seem cant really afford lawyers? IM SORRY BUT THE PICTURE HERE SEEMS PRETTY CLEAR.

  2. Unless I am not reading it correctly, it seems like an open and shut case, does it not? You can’t sell merchandise unless you have the approvals and licenses in place.

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