Wednesday, August 9th is National Book Lover’s Day and, ironically, it was also the day that it came out that LeVar Burton was being sued for copyright infringement, breach of contract, and extortion.
For anyone who grew up in the ’90s, Burton was the host of the beloved TV show, Reading Rainbow, where he encouraged a love of reading in kids by introducing them to different books.
Not much has changed in the 30 years since Reading Rainbow first premiered on PBS. Burton is now the host of his own podcast called LeVar Burton Reads which is basically Reading Rainbow for the kids, once fans of the show, who are now all grown up.
sadly, the whole thing is embroiled in controversy. What’s the problem with the whole situation? Essentially, Burton doesn’t own any of the Reading Rainbow property. They show was originally developed at WNED, a PBS member station out of Buffalo, NY. Recently,
Burton used his famous catchphrase from the show, “You don’t have to take my word for it…” and, WNED is looking for compensation on what they consider intellectual theft. According to The Hollywood Reporter , Burton had entered into a licensing deal with WNED in 2011. In 2014 he launched a Kickstarter to raise money for the revival and raised $6.5 million, without WNED’s involvement. Additionally, the suit alleges that Burton’s company RRKIDZ and The Jim Henson Co. entered into discussions with NETFLIX about a reading related property. RRKIDZ contends that the NETFLIX discussions were not regarding a Reading Rainbow show, but an original concept instead.
In a brief statement, WNED said:
“As evidenced by Mr. Burton’s conduct since he began ‘teasing’ the public about the return of Reading Rainbow years before his company acquired any rights to do so, Mr. Burton’s goal is to control and reap the benefits of Reading Rainbow’s substantial goodwill — goodwill that unquestionably belongs to WNED.”
Undoubtedly we’ll hear more about the lawsuit in coming days.
How do you feel about this news? Let us know in the comments below!
Amanda Woomer-Limpert is one of the Geekiverse’s newest writers and an avid bookworm. Her favorite book featured on the show is Abiyoyo by Pete Seeger.
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