Joel Osteen Sued By Musician Who Says Lakewood Using His Song Will Alienate People

Categories: Courts

Joel-Osteen-001082511.jpg
Joel Osteen: Stop playing our music, for God's sake.
Joel and Victoria Osteen and Lakewood Church have been sued by two songwriters over the church's use of a song called "Signaling Through the Flames" in TV ads.

Richard Cupolo and John Emanuele say they had a one-year licensing agreement with Lakewood but it expired and was not renewed. The ads continue to air, they say.

And the two, who perform as The American Dollar, no longer want the Lakewood connection, it seems.

"They don't want to be tied to a global televangelist for the rest of their careers, and a controversial one at that," their lawyer, Jarrett Ellzey, tells Hair Balls.

Says the suit:

Their musical styles consist of meditative and inspirational instrumentals much like that of a dramatic motion picture soundtrack....[Their publisher] Yesh is not affiliated with any religious groups or political organizations, and does not desire to have its music associated with Defendants. Instead, Yesh desires broad marketing of its music without compromising its artistic integrity or alienate its niche following.

The suit says the duo "view their music as unique and marketable to media outlets seeking enhancement of their message through use of inspirational tracts," and that they "have explored certain licensing opportunities for their music."

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The American Dollar, pissed.
The song is used in ads for the DVD Supernatural, they say, which sounds pretty cult-y to us. The suit says the song "contributed to the success of the Defendant's DVD and other marketing campaigns for other products, and substantially increased revenues and profits" for the church.

Must be a pretty powerful song. The duo are asking $3 million in damages.

Ellzey says the duo's expired one-year agreement with Lakewood okayed the song for use in a streaming web video and in live performance, but not in any video of those live performances. (Their publisher told them they would market the song to a few large-venue churches, Ellzey says, but the two were unaware Lakewood would be one of them.)

"They have aspirations to market their music to Hollywood productions," he says, and don't want to be tagged as religious-music writers.

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Lakewood Church

3700 Southwest Freeway, Houston, TX

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13 comments
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Bernice Buri
Bernice Buri

In this day and time, people look for the worst in others, jump to conclusions formed in their  own mind with negativity as their foundation.

If they did not want to be tagged as religious music writers, then why was the initial one year contract entered between the parties........they were/are already tagged.....

As quoted "The song is used in ads for the DVD Supernatural, they say, which sounds pretty cult-y to us. The suit says the song "contributed to the success of the Defendant's DVD and other marketing campaigns for other products, and substantially increased revenues and profits" for the church". 

The contract ended in February of 2011.......it is only the end of August, 2011.

Good grief.....let it go!  The quote "which sounds pretty cult-y to us" as stated above is not FACT only their thought.    The Court dockets are already full.....this is totally unreasonable.  This could have been handled out of Court.......a call to Joel is all that was needed.

To the musicians: when you wake up in the morning, ask God to let you see others as He does

Bernice Buri

TheTruth(sic)
TheTruth(sic)

Supernatural is roughly equivalant to Lakewood Church, both promoting supernatural fiction, but that is not the point.The point is they have a legal agreement with Lakewood that they could use the song for one year.  That year is over.  Lakewood needs to stop using the song.  Period.

LarryB
LarryB

Let's keep religion out of this, and then you have nothing. This is a contract issue and the business (aka Lakewood) did not renew it. Game, point, match.

Famijoly
Famijoly

LarryB, points well taken.  However, the issue I find is in the incomplete reporting in the compilation of this news story.

Yes, it appears Lakewood and Yesh/American Dollar entered into a contract that had a specific expiration date, after which Lakewood would not be allowed to use the song.  It was like a subscription.  But in what we experience as a conventional subscription with a specific expiration date, the publisher/producer has all the keys; the midnight hour hits, and the juice is turned off (no more daily paper, weekly/monthly magazine, access to website, etc.). Game over.  But in this case, the subscriber, by terms of the contract itself, embedded the material into its own intellectual property, so at midnight hour plus one minute, it was not simply a matter of producer cutting access, it was a matter of subscriber ceasing and desisting use of no-longer subscribed material.

This is what the news stories fails to cover, Lakewood's side of it.  When Lakewood continued to use the song after the expiration of the contract, whether by oversight or with willfull disregard for the expiration date, did Yesh remind Lakewood that Lakewood was no longer allowed to use the song, and then issue a cease-and-desist warning? If there was such an exchange between Yesh and Lakewood, when was it, and did Lakewood, in effect blow off Yesh?  We are only left to speculate.

I would tend to agree with the posters on here who say that IF those simple due-process steps were not taken by Yesh, then filing a lawsuit against Lakewood seems to indicate the driving motive for the litigation was not simply protecting its intellectual property.  The idea is to avoid a lawsuit.  If a cease-and-desist warning, and perhaps asking Lakewood for a proportional usage fee for "overtime," did not work, then, yes indeed, take Lakewood to court.  But we don't any of that from this story.

MASSMURDERMEDIA
MASSMURDERMEDIA

i realize that even churches can conduct shady business practices...  but rather than first pulling the trigger on a lawsuit, did anyone with yesh pick up a phone and ask joel or one of his underlings to kindly cease and desist?...  i'm guessing the continued airplay just fell thru the lakewood bureaucratic cracks, unless they simply feel legally entitled to continue to use the song...  we can only speculate about lakewood's side since there's not even the obligatory "no comment" quoted...   

"..."they have aspirations to market their music to hollywood productions," he says, and don't want to be tagged as religious-music writers..."  here's an idea:  when yesh shops the american dollar's demo around hollywood, maybe if they didn't include lakewood's tv ad there would be less of a chance of them getting tagged as religious... 

Reenie Davis
Reenie Davis

After working in advertising for years and years, I worked in the marketing department of a church for a short while. To call their "business practices" SHADY would be the understatement of the year. Among other issues, I've never seen such flagrant disregard for the law/licensing/copyright in my life. Basically, if they wanted to appropriate it for their purposes, they did. The sense of entitlement was off the charts. When I'd try to explain that in order to publish the musical parts of services (web, video, etc.), they needed to pay the licensing fees, they'd wave me off like I was out of my mind.

Apparently, laws and rules do not apply to churches. Which would partially explain why they're rollin' in cash. 

MASSMURDERMEDIA
MASSMURDERMEDIA

when doing the lord's work one needn't bother with earthly laws... 

justsayin'
justsayin'

Does anyone else think its funny that a megachurch is using a track by a band named "The American Dollar"

Db89
Db89

Explosions in the Sky should be suing them for their lame imitation.

chef504
chef504

Osteen, with His six flags over religion INC, and his sheBitch need no help in the alienating field.  

Bernice Buri
Bernice Buri

Your statement served no purpose other than to show your uncouth personality, in all due respect.

Mike N.
Mike N.

At least he doesn't have a "heBitch" like some televangelists.

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