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LATEST ON LAWSUIT FILED AGAINST WWE OVER 'BADSTREET USA' AND WCW THEME SONGS

By Mike Johnson on 2012-10-10 15:44:42
World Wrestling Entertainment and several other defendants in the lawsuit brought against them by composer James Papas filed a motion in the United States District Court in Dallas requesting that Papas' lawsuit against them be dismissed.

In the lawsuit, Papas alleges that his original registered songs were re-registered to WWE and instead listed Jim Johnston and/or Michael Hayes as the songwriters/composers of the material and Stephanie Music as the publisher, taking away revenue and credit that rightfully should have gone to him. Papas also alleges that WWE wrongfully infringed on his music by using the material on the Triumph and Tragedy of World Class Championship Wrestling DVD ("Badstreet USA"), in ring tones released by WWE and in numerous older matches broadcast on WWE's Classics on Demand VOD service.

WWE and the other defendants are claiming that Papas, in his initial filing, failed to establish that Texas has jurisdiction over the proceedings legally, that the lawsuit is "completely devoid of any factual allegation" that WWE had purposely done anything to Papas in Texas and that Papas failed to show that the defendants have "substantial contacts" in Texas. So, their strategy is that the lawsuit was filed in the wrong venue.

The Defendants also noted that neither Michael "Hayes" Seitz nor James Johnston have been served notice of the lawsuit, so "further prosecution" against them would be improper.

WWE, etc.'s filing also claims that Papas original lawsuit filing fails to show one specific act of infringement against his copyrights, fails to show proof of tortuous interference as there is no contract with him that the company could have interfered with. They claimed that his allegations of "conspiracy" could not be correct as a corporation cannot "conspire with itself" and that he has failed to show where they may have ruined any potential new business relationships.

The defendants have asked that the lawsuit be dismissed and if it cannot be dismissed, that any remaining claims be transferred to the District Court in Connecticut, where WWE Headquarters is located.

Papas and Seitz/Hayes co-wrote many of the songs used by WCW in the early 1990s for their "Slamjam CD" as well as the classic "Badstreet USA" song sung by Hayes and used for decades as his theme music.

In his original lawsuit filing, Papas noted that he had registered "Badstreet USA" with Broadcast Music, Inc (BMI) so he could properly receive credit and royalties due for usage of the song. He later did the same after working with WCW to create 11 songs, many of which were released through the WCW CD "Slamjam" and were used as theme songs for their wrestlers during that era.

Papas noted in the suit that he was contacted by THQ regarding the usage of the "Badstreet" song for their Legends of Wrestlemania videogame. THQ initially made an offer to Papas for the song then rescinded it, claiming that WWE owned the song. Papas contacted BMI to check on the registrations of his songs and alleges that "Badstreet" had been "improperly and erroneously" re-registered by the defendants and given a new registration number, so that ownership and royalties due would instead go to the defendants. Papas claimed that he was able to get the song registration corrected but "by that time, THQ had decided not to use the song." Instead, a similar sounding song about "Freebirds running wild and free" was used by THQ for the game.

Papas claimed that he then began investigating his other works, there had been an "history of omissions and errors" made by WWE that prevented Papas from his proper credit and royalties for usage of the songs - as they were re-registered to WWE instead listed Jim Johnston and/or Michael Hayes as the songwriters/composers of the material and Stephanie Music as the publisher.

Papas also alleged that WWE wrongfully infringed on his music by using the material on the Triumph and Tragedy of World Class Championship Wrestling DVD ("Badstreet USA"), in ring tones released by WWE and in numerous older matches broadcast on WWE's Classics on Demand VOD service.

Papas claims that "due to Defendant WWE's erroneous registrations and its failure to submit proper cues to BMI, Plaintiffs have not received any payment or royalties in connection with these performances."

In his original filing, Papas sought a declaration from the court that he, not the defendants, is the owner and composer of the songs in question, that WWE does not have any right to the material, whatever "relief" he is awarded by the court and for WWE to cover all of his court and attorney costs.

In 2004, Papas filed a similar suit against the PA-based RF Video for selling videos of old WCW material that featured Papas' songs from the Slamjam CD. That lawsuit ended with a court ruling that RF Video and owner Rob Feinstein were required to pay Papas $250,000 in damages on 11/9/05.

WWE was faced with a similar lawsuit several years ago from the composers of the original Extreme Championship Wrestling songs, Harry "Slash" Grivas and Roderick Kohn. In that suit, WWE ended up settling for a confidential amount of money and purchased their ECW library of music outright.