'N Sync Sued By Sid & Marty Krofft Over Puppets!

(11/29/00, 5 p.m. ET) - 'N Sync <http://rd.yahoo.com/Dailynews/lc/inlinks/*http://www.launch.com/music/artistpage/1,,1033340,00.html?vo=yahn&> is being sued by Sid & Marty Krofft Pictures for copyright infringement and breach of contract over the alleged unauthorized use of the images of puppets created for the group.

The California-based Sid & Marty Krofft Pictures, Inc., is best known for its puppets and popular television programs such as H.R. Pufnstuf, D.C. Follies, Land Of The Lost, and The Bugaloos.

In addition to the members of the group, the lawsuit also names 'N Sync manager Johnny Wright, his Wright Entertainment Group, merchandising consultant Rick Barlowe, Winterland Concessions Company, and Winterland Productions, Ltd.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Tuesday (November 28), states that in December 1999 or early January 2000, Marty Krofft was contacted by Wright, who requested that Krofft create 25-foot puppets of each of the five members of 'N Sync so that the group could use them during a performance of "Bye, Bye, Bye" at the American Music Awards. In less than 10 days, Krofft created and delivered the puppets to the group for use at the awards event. Krofft then recorded the copyright registrations for the puppets in July 2000, which effectively made him the sole owner and copyright holder of the Krofft puppets crafted in 'N Sync's likenesses.

The suit alleges that the defendants created derivative works based on the copyrighted Krofft puppets, including an image of the puppets on the back cover of the 'N Sync No Strings Attached <http://rd.yahoo.com/Dailynews/lc/inlinks/*http://www.launch.com/music/albumpage/1,,1010516,00.html?vo=yahn&> souvenir program, an image of the puppets on a souvenir backstage pass laminate sold at concert venues, and possible images of the puppets appearing on other merchandise.

The suit goes on to claim that a breach of implied-in-fact contract took place after a conversation between Krofft and Wright, in which Wright allegedly assured Krofft, "Don't worry, you are 'in' on any and all merchandise." The suit also states that in a subsequent conversation with Wright, Krofft was told that he would also be "in" on all merchandising, including the popular 'N Sync marionettes (in the group members' likenesses) sold at toy stores nationwide. While the suit states that the marionettes "are not based on the Krofft puppets," Krofft claims that the puppets were made due to his "creative efforts." Krofft also makes the claim that "an implied license is in place by virtue of the oral conversations or conduct of the parties." Barlowe later informed Krofft that no such agreement for royalties was ever in place.

The suit asks for actual damages, statutory damages, attorneys' fees, and a "reasonable royalty" with interest. A "reasonable royalty" would be 10 percent of any and all monies received from sales of the 'N Sync souvenir program, the 'N Sync backstage pass laminate, other 'N Sync puppet merchandise, and the marionettes, according to Krofft.

-- Jason Gelman, New York