Pastor claims gospel singer recorded his copyrighted songs

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Jun. 14, 2012, 7:24am

HOUSTON - Claiming his friend used his songs without his permission, an Ellis County pastor has filed a lawsuit.

Demetrius McClendon of Midlothian argues in a lawsuit filed in the Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas that gospel singer Earnest Pugh included two tracks he wrote on an album released almost three years ago.

Black Smoke Music Worldwide Inc., Worldwide Music Inc. , EPM Music Group Inc. and Black Smoke Music Worldwide Inc. CEO and Worldwide Music Inc. president Kerry F. Douglas join Pugh as respondents in the case.

According to the original petition, Pugh "became interested" in "I Trust You" and "Hosanna", reportedly penned by the plaintiff, in 2008 and wanted to feature them on his third album, "Earnest Pugh LIVE: Rain on Us".

The suit further explains that the album, produced by Douglas and distributed by Black Smoke and Worldwide Music, saw release on July 28, 2009, with the songs in question on the track listing.

"Earnest Pugh LIVE: Rain on Us" accumulated 93,000 copies and peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Top Gospel Albums Chart.

McClendon, who preaches at ONE Church in Midlothian, was credited in the liner notes, but Pugh and Douglas failed to obtain the clergyman's permission, the suit says.

It asserts that McClendon held out hope that the defendants would award him royalties for "several months -- then years -- " to no avail, adding the respondents supposedly turned down the complainant's offer of foregone late fees.

The pastor shows that he duly registered "I Trust You" and "Hosanna" in the U.S. Copyright Office in 2004 and insists the defendants committed copyright infringement against him with their reported actions.

Consequently, McClendon seeks approximately $20,000 in damages plus a jury trial.

Attorney Benjamin A. Geslison with Baker Botts L.L.P. in Houston is representing the plaintiff.

Case No. 4:12-cv-1686

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