I’m Ready Productions, Inc. Unanimously Vindicated in Michael Baisden Copyright Infringement Case

I’m Ready Productions, Inc. 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, I’m Ready Productions, Inc. (IRP), ending a three and one-half year ordeal.

{From left to right: Jason Bloom (Attorney), Je'Caryous Johnson, Gary Guidry, David Harper (Lead Attorney - Haynes & Boone, LLP)} Founded in 1995, I'm Ready Productions ("I'm Ready") is a national, minority owned, theatre, television, feature film and music production company based in Houston. Owned by 2007 NAACP Trailblazer award winners Je’Caryous Johnson and Gary Guidry, I’m Ready is known for its soul-stirring plays. Breaking box office records, more than two million people in over 50 cities have turned out for I'm Ready plays. From turning bestselling African-American novels into plays, to approaching Hollywood's hottest stars for its productions, I'm Ready's approach is fearless and outside-of-the-box, changing the face of American touring theatre.

The company, led by NAACP Award winning producers Je’Caryous Johnson and Gary Guidry, had been embroiled in a legal battle with author and nationally syndicated radio host, Michael Baisden, who claimed IRP violated federal copyright laws by touring a stage play without his permission and selling DVD’s 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 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. Finally, Baisden’s claim that IRP had misappropriated his name without his permission in connection with the videos and 2005 tour were also denied.

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 attorney’s 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 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.” 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.

One Response

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  1. I followed this case and the verdict was definitely Mixed. There are two sides to every story, but only one true side. I was a fan of both sides and neither side got everything they wanted. I also attended the trial and if you want to know the whol…e truth, here it is. First, I?m Ready?s President testified that the Baisden ?movie rights? were worth $40-$60 million. So, if Baisden was fighting for these rights, then the lawsuit was worth it. Second, you are correct that the jury may have thought that Mr. Baisden?s conduct, although I do not agree, suggested that the production guys had rights to distribute his works, so they voted that he could not recover ANY damages. Then, if you look at Questions 29 and 30, the Jury also decided that I?m Ready was not entitled to ANY damages from Baisden?s movie deals. Finally, if you look back at an Order the Court filed on September 9, 2009, it stated that ?IRP?s interpretation of what it means to own all rights in the stageplays is without basis in the law and does not entitle it to a declaration that it owns exclusive rights to the stageplays, which it parlays into permission to create, distribute, market, and sell video recordings of the stageplays without authorization from Baisden.? In the end, this Jury (without any Blacks) didn?t like two blacks suing and countersuing each other, so it sent both sides home with without ANY damages. So, I guess both sides won AND both sides lost. This is just the truth. Copyrights are not an easy thing.


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