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.
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