Ray Charles' Estate Sues His Son For Publishing Photo
The Ray Charles Foundation is suing the the late singer's son for publishing the recently released book You Don't Know Me: Reflections of My Father, Ray Charles.
The lawsuit, filed yesterday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles against Ray Charles Robinson, Jr. and Random House, starts out this way: "This is a straightforward action for copyright infringement..."
Um, we beg to differ.
According to the complaint, the son of the deceased singer is being sued because he had the temerity to put a photo of his own father on the cover of his book and also included some of his father's lyrics in the book.
The photo was allegedly taken by by an employee of Ray Charles in 1965. The Foundation claims that the photo was a "work made for hire" and that it owns the copyright on the photo. The Foundation says it has sustained and will continue to sustain damage because the photo was published without permission.
The Foundation also alleges that the son included lyrics from I Got A Woman, Hallelujah I Love Her So, and What Kind of Man Are You? in the book.
Not included are details about how these lyrics were used. If Ray Charles Jr. quoted them by explaining their origin, we imagine he has a pretty strong fair use defense. Nevertheless, the foundation wants $150,000 per infringement. Random House says it hasn't seen the lawsuit and can't comment yet.
The Ray Charles Foundation was set up by the singer in 1986 to provide financial support of hearing disorders.