Michael Jackson’s Estate Sues Over Website

Michael Jackson’s estate is seeking the shutdown of a website that is selling a book written by the singer’s mother and has released music attributed to the late pop superstar.

The singer’s estate sued businessman Howard Mann, who operates the website www.jacksonsecretvault.com, on Thursday, claiming both are infringing on copyrights and pose unfair competition.

The website features a book of Katherine Jackson’s recollections of her son and released a remix of a Jackson song shortly before the release of a posthumous album last year.

The copyright infringement lawsuit asks a federal judge to turn over the website to the estate. It also seeks all profits from the website, which would go to the multimillion estate that supports Katherine Jackson and the singer’s three children.

An e-mail message sent to the site’s operators was not immediately returned.

The complaint alleges Mann and the site are using Jackson’s likeness improperly, including images from the film “This Is It” and five sketches the singer drew. The lawsuit states Mann has created a false endorsement by including a “special thanks” to the estate in Katherine Jackson’s book despite not receiving permission for the use of copyrighted works.

Several of the Jackson Secret Vault releases have 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. That album sold more than three million copies.

“The Estate had hoped Mann would voluntarily cease his conduct but that was not to be,” estate attorney Howard Weitzman wrote in a statement. “People who trade off of Michael’s personality, copyrights, and trademarks should not be allowed to exploit the legacy of one of the world’s most recognized talents for their own benefit.”

Jackson’s estate, overseen by attorney John Branca and music executive John McClain, has earned millions and some experts estimate it will eventually rival the lucrative estate of Elvis Presley.

Photo: AP Photo
Arriving at a Los Angeles Courthouse in downtown Los Angeles.

Several lawsuits over Jackson’s likeness and copyright have been filed by the estate and merchandiser Bravado.