For over two decades, children in California and across the country were encouraged to read on the television show “Reading Rainbow” by show host LeVar Burton. However, the show was canceled in 2006. Now Burton faces a pending lawsuit after the public broadcaster that owns the show, WNED, accused him of copyright infringement.
The most recent legal conflict between WNED and Burton and his company RRKidz involves a podcast called “LeVar Burton Reads.” Burton reportedly claims that his podcast is the “Reading Rainbow” for adults. The catchphrase “But you don’t have to take my word for it” used in the original show is also reportedly used in the podcast.
In the lawsuit, WNED claims that Burton is unmistakably invoking the former television show — an invocation that is unauthorized. As such, it is seeking show profits. The lawsuit is also asking that RRKidz and company turn over administrative rights to certain social media accounts apparently connected to the show.
Unfortunately, this legal conflict is not the first one between Burton and WNED. In 2011, parties battled over an agreement that allowed Burton to use certain intellectual property connected to the show for an online revival; the agreement was terminated after WNED claims Burton was in talks to recreate the show on Netflix without its consent. Unfortunately, a pending lawsuit involving allegations of copyright infringement and other elements related to business law can be complicated. As a result, most people involved in such allegations seek help from an attorney with experience with such cases.
Source: philly.com, “LeVar Burton sued in ‘Reading Rainbow’ copyright infringement lawsuit,” Nick Vadala, Aug. 9, 2017