Jury to Decide Value of Some Jackson Copyrights

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  • LOS ANGELES (AP) — Michael Jackson's estate will begin making its case to a jury that a businessman working with the singer's mother should be forced to pay millions of dollars for infringing on several copyrights.

    The amount is the sole issue at stake in a trial set to begin on Tuesday against Howard Mann, who has collaborated with Katherine Jackson on several projects, including a book.

    A judge has already ruled that Mann violated Jackson estate copyrights and ordered his website shut down. His attorneys argue the estate doesn't actually own the proper rights and the ruling should be tossed out, but a judge has refused to reconsider his ruling.

    The infringed works include cover art from Jackson's posthumous film "This Is It," and a silhouette of the singer dancing to his hit "Smooth Criminal."

    The estate's case is expected to hinge on one expert witness who has estimated the cost of a license for the works is between $5 million and $12 million.

    Mann's attorneys rejected a settlement offer last week of $2 million. Jackson's estate, who sued over the works in January 2011, is also asking that Mann be forced to pay its attorneys' fees.

    Mann's lawyers have sought to introduce evidence that they were given bad legal advice about having to license the works, and have considered calling Katherine Jackson as a witness. The Jackson family matriarch is one of the beneficiaries of the singer's estate, along with his three children.

    U.S. District Judge Dean D. Pregerson has noted that Mann doesn't appear to have the resources to pay a large judgment.

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