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Zac Brown, Zac Brown Band named in lawsuit

AP photo

AP photo

Zac Brown, the Zac Brown Band and other business entities associated with the Grammy-winning country rocker have been named in a lawsuit that alleges copyright infringement and other violations.

The AJC is seeking comment from Zac Brown Band management.

The lawsuit was filed Nov. 30 in U.S. District Court by plaintiff Kyle Landas, described in court documents as a leather artist who lives in Iowa.

The lawsuit claims that the Zac Brown Band has used Landas’ “Unity Tree” design as album art and on merchandise including concert T-shirts, keychains and promotional postcards without properly compensating him.

“As a way to increase his profile among musicians, Landas began producing custom leather guitar straps and presenting them to artists as gifts,” the lawsuit reads. “On June 15, 2010, Landas embossed Unity Tree onto a custom leather guitar strap, and on June 17, 2010, presented it to Brown backstage at a Zac Brown Band concert in Burlington, Iowa.”

Landas then went to work for a leather studio owned by Brown, and was employed there from Aug. 8, 2010 until Aug. 15, 2012, the lawsuit says. During that time, the lawsuit says, Landas unsuccessfully sought compensation for use of the design. Legal proceedings in the form of cease-and-desist letters began after his termination, the lawsuit says.

“Defendants have willfully infringed and are willfully infringing the copyright Unity Tree by reproducing, manufacturing, distributing, promoting, advertising, displaying and selling the Infringing Works, in this District and throughout the United States and world, without the permission, license or consent of Landas,” the lawsuit says.

Landas seeks damages, attorneys’ fees and profits from the sale of items featuring the design.

Check back for updates.

22 comments Add your comment

Scott

December 5th, 2012
5:17 pm

Nothing like suing your former employeer to create some bad blood. I hope it is worth a lot to him — otherwise no one will hire this guy. He does have a case though, if that design was created BEFORE he was hired.

IOP

December 5th, 2012
7:23 pm

Sounds like a Classic Case of trying to profit off someones else success to me.

Indian giver

December 5th, 2012
8:18 pm

Was the strap containing the art a gift? The article doesn’t say. If so, did it not belong to Zac to use as he pleased? Can I give someone a gift that I created and then sue them for using it? Need more info Jennifer.

SusieQ

December 5th, 2012
8:19 pm

I was shocked to read about this… Very disappointing because I am a huge fan (ZBB). I felt the same as IOP until I read the actual court docket on Nashville Gab’s website. Either way to me, who cares – I am not talented and don’t sell CD’s but it sounds like a classic case of Celebrities think they can do whatever they want and screw the little guy. I am a fan but everyone would feel the same way if you created something, didn’t get credit and someone else profited from your work. How would you feel IOP if you went to work everyday and your co-worker got your paycheck?

http://www.nashvillegab.com/2012/12/zac-brown-sued-for-unlawful-use-of-a-tree-and-being-a-bad-boss.html
Read the court doc here….

Indian Giver2

December 5th, 2012
8:28 pm

Indian Giver – If Jack Daniels gave you a bottle of whiskey can you sell their logo for a profit? Or a coach bag… can you sell that design for a profit??? Not a lawyer just asking…

PTC DAWG

December 5th, 2012
11:21 pm

Anybody can sue anybody, just remember that.

You got to get Uncaged……

lawyerdaggett

December 6th, 2012
6:13 am

I AM a lawyer, and I say save your “disappointment” until the case plays out in court. All you know is someone is making allegations. Why not wait to find out what really happened before you reach a judgment?

Andy

December 6th, 2012
6:24 am

Whichever side has the most money will most likely win.

I am a lawyer - LMAO

December 6th, 2012
6:51 am

Pay the man his royalties and be done with it.

david smith

December 6th, 2012
7:32 am

@IOP; I agree: You write: “Sounds like a Classic Case of trying to profit off someones else success to me,” the artist whose art was allegedly infringed by the band is the “someones [sic] else success,” and the band seems to have tried to profit off the artist’s success. As “I am a lawyer” said, pay the man his royalties. I think this lawyer has it right.

Assuming

December 6th, 2012
8:13 am

See – when I read the headline I was assuming it was a class action suit filed by music lovers who may have attended a Zac Brown concert, bought Zac Brown music, or heard Zac Brown music on the radio and the main point of law they are basing the suit on is that all of the ZBB songs sound the same, are sung the same, and really bring down the intellectual property value of songs in general. Possibly a cease and desist or maybe force them to be more creative

reno88

December 6th, 2012
8:38 am

finally someone is suing this band for crimes against humanity – unleashing a torrent of horrible “music” on the general public.

Drago

December 6th, 2012
8:45 am

Jenny C

December 6th, 2012
9:06 am

Let it play out in court…………

Relentless

December 6th, 2012
9:37 am

1) This is a disgruntled employee trying to use the media (How else did the media get hold of the lawsuit?) to extort a big pay day. 2) Why is Landas still using the name “Under One Moon” for his buisness when Zac bought it from him on Feb. 18, 2012 for a $20,000 a year raise? I smell a countersuit. 3) Landas, contrary to his claims did not “own” the image

Relentless

December 6th, 2012
9:49 am

continued…of the “Unity Tree” until it was copyrighted on Oct. 9, 2012, months after Landas was fired. 4) If the “Southern Ground Tree” is somewhat different than the copy righted image, then there is no copyright infringement. 5) Landas needs to change the name of his company as he agreed to do, and grow up, get over it, and move on with whatever career that he will have left.

beautifulbutterfly

December 6th, 2012
10:25 am

Dude should of went to the media – lawyers that read cases on AJC and post their “professional” opinions are more than likely clientless lawyers – What lawyer has time to read the paper and give a 5 bullet point run down on his opinon… a really good one thats who – please post your name and number so you can profit also – maybe you can promote your business on here – off to another day of Madden 12

DaleSr4Ever

December 6th, 2012
10:31 am

That there tree is Zac’s brand. It has been used on merchandise. Heck, the official fan club uses it.

It is a BRAND, the same as the Nike Swoosh or Disney’s mouse ears.

That bell cannot be un-rung.

Tree = Zac Brown

Easily solved. Buy the darned thing and tell the artist to go jump in a lake.

LittlePeopleAreEqual

December 6th, 2012
10:42 am

Is the artist perhaps a little person? That would make more sense because he thinks its cool to degrade humans and human bowl little people…and live a lifestyle similar to a plantation – only one person on top.

http://www.tmz.com/2012/08/07/zac-brown-band-midget-bowling/

DaleSr4Ever

December 6th, 2012
10:54 am

IndianGiver said: “Was the strap containing the art a gift? The article doesn’t say. If so, did it not belong to Zac to use as he pleased?”

So if Zac gave you a complimentary copy of his CD as a gift, you would own the copyrights to all the songs and would be able to resell it?

Sure, sure.

Kirk Watkins

December 7th, 2012
1:50 pm

Pictures of the copyrighted work and the accused infringment plus further discussion of the filing can be found at: http://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=8744676007654066325#editor/target=post;postID=7335291051802746167

Looking up to a real hero

December 7th, 2012
4:27 pm

Having the guts to stand up to a greedy management and owner makes Kyle a hero to many.