-- Here are the latest details on the lawsuit filed by James D. Papa against WWE, their Stephanie Music subsidiary, WWE composer Jim Johnston and Michael Hayes.
Papas and Hayes co-wrote many of the songs used by WCW in the early 1990s for their "Slamjam CD" as well as the classic "Badstreet USA" song. The lawsuit notes that Papas registered the song with BMI so he could properly receive credit and royalties due for usage of the song. Back in 1992, Papas worked with WCW to create 11 songs, many of which were released through the WCW CD "Slamjam" and were also used as theme songs.
In the suit, Papas says that he was contacted by THQ regarding the usage of the "Badstreet" song for their Legends of Wrestlemania videogame. THQ initially made an offer to Papas for the song then rescinded it. They did so because they claimed that WWE owned the song. It was then that Papas contacted BMW to check on the registrations of his songs and alleges that "Badstreet" had been "improperly and erroneously" re-registered by the defendants and given a new registration number. With that being the case, ownership and royalties due would instead go to the defendants Papas claimed that he was able to get the song registration corrected but "by that time, THQ had decided not to use the song." THQ opted to use a similar sounding song about "Freebirds running wild and free" in the game.
Papas alleged in the lawsuit that upon investigating his other works, there had been an "history of omissions and errors" made by WWE that prevented Papas from obtaining he proper credit and royalties for usage of the songs. He further claims that his songs were re-registered to WWE instead listed Jim Johnston and/or Michael Hayes as the songwriters/composers of the material and Stephanie Music as the publisher. He claim that WWE wrongfully infringed on his music by using the material in various productions: the Triumph and Tragedy of World Class Championship Wrestling DVD, ring tones released by WWE and in numerous older matches broadcast on WWE's Classics on Demand VOD service.
Furthermore, Papas stated that, "due to Defendant WWE's erroneous registrations and its failure to submit proper cues to BMI, Plaintiffs have not received any payment or royalties in connection with these performances." He is now seeking a declaration from the court that he is the owner and composer of the songs, in question, that WWE does not have any right to the material. He is also seeking relief from the court, as well as for WWE to cover all of his court and attorney costs.
Back in 2004, Papas filed a similar suit against the PA-based RF Video for selling videos of old WCW material that featured Papas' songs from the Slamjam CD. RF Video and owner Rob Feinstein were required to pay Papas $250,000 in damages on November 9th, 2005.
WWE was faced with a similar lawsuit from the composers of the original Extreme Championship Wrestling songs, Harry "Slash" Grivas and Roderick Kohn. WWE ended up settling for a confidential amount of money and purchased their ECW library of music outright.
WWE, Stephanie Music subsidiary, WWE composer Jim Johnston and Michael Hayes were served the week of July 25th and have not responded to the suit at this time.