Thursday, August 30, 2012, 10:46 AM

Production Company Strikes with a Copyright Action Over Martial Arts Videos

On August 27, 2012, Ocean Aire Productions, Inc. ("Ocean Aire") and Sarah Beliza Tucker, both of Florida, filed a complaint in the Northern District of Georgia against Choe's Hapkido of Forsyth, LLC ("Choe's Hapkido"), Maurice Murphy, and Jong H. Choe, all of Georgia, seeking injunctive relief and damages for copyright infringement, unfair competition, false designation of origin, and fraud under United States and Georgia law.

According to the complaint, Plaintiffs create, produce, and distribute videos and associated content using animated characters directed at children learning or interested in martial arts.  Plaintiffs claim ownership of copyrights for the scripts, recordings, and theme music for Harry's First Martial Arts Lesson and Harry & Friends Black Belt Principles: Harry Gets into the Swing of Things.  Plaintiffs also claim ownership of a copyright to character designs for Harry, a "red-haired anthropomorphic lizard, and his other animal-based friends."  (See Harry and the other characters on the Black Belt Principles website.)  Plaintiffs state that the videos are sold primarily to martial arts schools and programs around the country for their resale and distribution as advertising and promotional materials.

The complaint alleges that Choe's Hapkido, a martial arts school with branches in Georgia, Maryland, Rhode Island, and Virginia, purchased the two videos, copied the content, stripped off the title screens, end credits, FBI warning, and all other information showing ownership and copyright status, and replaced them with Choe's Hapkido's own name and logo.  Plaintiffs claim that the altered videos are publicly accessible on YouTube and perhaps through other channels.  Plaintiffs raise claims for federal copyright infringement, unfair competition and false designation of origin under the Lanham Act, violation of the Georgia Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act (O.C.G.A. §§ 10-1-370 et seq.), and fraud under O.C.G.A. § 23-2-55.  Plaintiffs ask for preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, damages, seizure and destruction of all infringing works, and recoupment of attorneys' fees and costs.

The case is Ocean Aire Productions, Inc. et al. v. Choe's Hapkido of Forsyth, LLC et al., Civ. No. 2:12-cv-0205-WCO, United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division, and has been assigned to Judge William C. O'Kelley.

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