Two New York-based musicians are demanding $3 million in damages as part of a federal copyright infringement lawsuit filed against Houston-based Lakewood Church and pastors Joel and Victoria Osteen.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Richard Cupolo and John Emanuelle, and their company, Yesh Music.
The plaintiffs claim that the Osteens used their music intentionally, and without permission, in a television advertising campaign to boost sales of their religious DVD, "Supernatural."
According to an attorney for the musicians, Lakewood and the Osteens had a one-year limited liability agreement to use the song recording entitled, "Signaling Through The Flames," on a website, but the agreement expired in February 2011.
The lawsuit alleges that the Osteens and Lakewood continued to use the music without authorization and never paid a fee to renew the limited use licensing agreement.
"Federal copyright laws apply to everyone in the country, whether they are a church or a company. There are are no exceptions," said the plaintiff's attorney, W. Craft Hughes. "Our clients made the decision to look to the court system to get justice for what's happened to them."
A spokesman for Lakewood Church called the lawsuit and the demand for $3 million "unreasonable."
"The music in question is one minute of background music, which Lakewood Church had to license to use," church spokesman Don Illof said. "The plaintiff is apparently confused about the scope of the license and are now demanding $3 million for uses that we think are authorized. We think this is unreasonable."