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Judge rules website violated Jackson copyrights
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A federal judge ruled Friday that a businessman working with Michael Jackson's mother has violated copyrights owned by the singer's estate and should be blocked from future uses of the work.
U.S. District Judge Dean Pregerson sided with the singer's estate in a ruling against Howard Mann and the website www.michaeljacksonsecretvault.com , which appeared to be inactive Friday morning.
The estate sued Mann in January 2011, claiming he was violating copyrights and posed unfair competition to Jackson's estate. Pregerson ruled that the website improperly used art from the film "This Is It," a logo featuring Jackson and the song "Destiny," as well as other material.
"In light of defendants' past and present infringement, it is also undisputed that future violations are likely, causing ongoing harm to plaintiffs and misled consumers," Pregerson wrote.
An upcoming trial will address damages, although the judge noted that Mann and the site probably will not be able to pay any amount because of debts.
A phone message for one of Mann's lawyers, Lee Durst, was not immediately returned Friday. Mann has collaborated with Katherine Jackson, who is a beneficiary of the singer's estate, on several projects, including a book of recollections about her son. Several of the Jackson Secret Vault releases occurred at the same time as estate projects were being released, including the anniversary of Jackson's death and the release of the album "Michael" in December 2010.