Tyler Perry accused of stealing gospel song for 'Madea'

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Tyler Perry accused of stealing gospel song for 'Madea'

Mon Nov 30, 2009 @ 10:08AM PST

By Eriq Gardner

Madea_goes_to_jail_dvd_ Tyler Perry is being accused of ripping off a Jesus-themed gospel song to create a monologue in the film "Madea Goes to Jail," released by Lionsgate earlier this year.

The estate of Bertha V. James, author of the song "When I Think of the Goodness of Jesus," has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles against Perry and Lionsgate for copyright infringement. 

According to the complaint, Perry "incorporated the entire chorus from the song in a monologue delivered by the main character 'Madea' referencing her deliverance from a jail sentence and leniency for repetitive criminal conduct, in a staged court proceeding presided over by 'Judge Mabeline.'" 

We'll point out that the song in question isn't very long and the lyrics are rather generic. Here's a copy of the scene posted on YouTube. "When I think of the goodness of Jesus," goes the refrain. "And all he's done for me, my soul cries out hallelujah, I thank God for saving me."

Last year around this time, Perry beat back a copyright claim in Texas federal court over the Madea character. Now Perry will likely argue her words are protected by fair use.

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The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to Matthew.Belloni@thr.com

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