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WNY television station sues ‘Reading Rainbow’ host – WGRZ

BUFFALO, N.Y. — WNED-TV, the PBS affiliate in Buffalo, is suing the former host of one of the most popular children’s television shows in history.

The broadcaster filed a federal lawsuit against LeVar Burton accusing him of copyright infringement, breach of contract and other civil violations of law.

Burton was the host of the show, Reading Rainbow, which was produced by WNED from 1983 until 2006.

Burton and WNED have been in an ongoing legal battle for more than a year, but this new lawsuit was filed just days ago in federal court in Manhattan.

The overall legal confrontation dates back to 2011, when both sides agreed to a deal to license “digital” aspects of the Reading Rainbow brand to Burton in exchange for royalties.  That relationship went south, and by 2015, WNED sought to terminate the deal.

In the new lawsuit, WNED’s attorneys write that “Burton’s goal is to control and reap the benefits of Reading Rainbow’s substantial goodwill — goodwill that unquestionably belongs to WNED.”

As one example, the television station says Burton ends his podcast with, “But you don’t have to take my word for it.” That’s a catch phrase from the Reading Rainbow show, and WNED contends Burton is violating its copyright protection by his unauthorized use of the phrase.

He’s also accused of using and other websites to direct people to his own site to sell products and services.

WNED contends that Burton’s company, RRKidz, transferred the show’s digital distribution rights to a friend’s firm, Raymonds Capital, which is also named as a defendant

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