JZK, Inc., Freedom Foundation Spar Over Discovery, Declarations

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JZK, Inc. and the Freedom Foundation continue to argue in court over discovery, declarations and motions for summary judgment.

The lawsuit stems from videos of JZK, Inc. President JZ Knight, purportedly channeling 35,000-year-old Lemurian warrior Ramtha, making disparaging remarks about Catholics, gays, Jewish people and Mexicans. Glen Morgan, an employee of the Freedom Foundation think tank, gave copies of the video on DVDs to the Thurston County Commissioners.

JZK, Inc. is seeking a court order compelling the Freedom Foundation to provide discovery materials as they pursue the lawsuit.

The Freedom Foundation contends the materials being sought by JZK, Inc. are privileged.

JZK, Inc. contends the materials they’re seeking aren’t privileged and that they’ve demonstrated the discovery is necessary.

The company states in court documents they have established the recording in question is copyrightable, and they need to seek discovery to “determine the extent of Defendants’ infringement on Plaintiff’s copyright protections. This discovery is entirely relevant to the claims and defenses at issue in this case.

“Defendants have asserted claims of First Amendment privilege in response to questions seeking disclosure of the number of sources of the Plaintiff’s video materials, websites where Defendants contend the video can be accessed, and details of the sources of the video in Defendants’ possession. Defendants support their claims of First Amendment protection with just the sort of ‘broad allegations or subjective fears’ courts caution against. Defendants have not met their burden, but even if they could, Plaintiffs’ discovery requests seek relevant information and are permissibly narrow.”

JZK, Inc. argues the Freedom Foundation cannot claim journalistic privilege and, even if they could, the company can overcome that privilege because the information they’re seeking can’t reasonably be obtained from other sources and is an important facet of their claims.

JZK, Inc. has also moved for partial summary judgment.

The Freedom Foundation argues in court documents that JZK, Inc. has failed to bring forth admissible evidence, and that the company’s summary judgment movement should be denied, while the Freedom Foundation’s should be granted.

The foundation claims the company hasn’t established the video in question was published in a fixed form and copyrightable.

While the company argues the video was fixed in a digital form, the Foundation contends “there is nothing in the record to indicate that the Plaintiffs’ copyright registration matches a work upon which the Defendants infringed.”

Further, the foundation alleges the work registered by JZK, Inc. with the U.S. Copyright Office are made of one of the video excerpts Morgan submitted on DVD to the Thurston County Commissioners.

“It is abundantly clear Plaintiffs have not met their burden of proving Knight created a video of the March 31, 2011, event, and the registration they obtained from the U.S. Copyright Office was not for such a video and was not honestly obtained,” the foundation states. Therefore, the company “cannot meet their burden of proving a valid copyright registration applies for any video images,” the foundation argues.

The foundation is seeking to strike a declaration by Mike Wright, an employee of JZK, Inc., arguing that it is “inadmissible for summary judgment.”

The foundation states Wright has no personal knowledge whether the company stored copies of the video footage in question.

“It is not a question of whether or not Defendants believe the witness has personal knowledge,” the foundation states. “It is a requirement that the declarant demonstrate he or she has personal knowledge. Plaintiffs do not cure those flaws with their opposition.”

“Wright’s own testimony shows he lacks personal knowledge and certainty of facts attested as he cannot say whether ‘all’ events are recorded or just whether they ‘typically’ are. Nor can he lawfully testify that someone else directed the recording to occur,” court documents state.

The company argues the foundation’s motion to strike is “procedurally improper.” They also argue Wright’s declaration is admissible in its entirety.

“Mr.  Wright’s personal knowledge can be easily inferred from his positions with JZK, Inc. … Moreover, at several points in Mr. Wright’s declaration, he provides further foundation for his personal knowledge of specific events.”

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