From The National Law Journal online catalog - November 15, 1999
Artist's dream settlement
The National Law Journal (p. B17)
Claim that 'What Dreams May Come' used painter's work is quietly resolved.
Norfolk, Va. -- The makers and distributors of the film What Dreams May Come have settled a suit by a painter claiming that they stole his visions of heaven.
The copyright infringement suit accused producers of the movie, which starred Robin Williams, of using four of Louis Jones' landscape paintings without credit. The works had appeared on the covers of four books.
Terms of the settlement, reached the week of Oct. 25, were confidential. The suit had been scheduled to go to trial in December in U.S. district court. Asking for $2 million, the suit named Polygram Filmed Entertainment Distribution Inc. and Interscope Communications Inc. as defendants.
Mr. Jones, 47, of Virginia Beach, Va., said on Nov. 1 that he could not talk about the case in detail.
A lawyer for Polygramm and Interscope, John Y. Pearson, Jr., of Norfolk, Va.'s Wilcox & Savage P.C., said that the "lawsuit has been settled to the mutual satisfaction of the parties." In a statement, the companies denied all of Mr. Jones' allegations "and do not admit any liability."
The allegedly stolen images were central to the 1998 film, in which Mr. Williams played a character who dies and realizes that heaven is a scene from one of his wife's paintings. The movie won an Oscar for visual effects.
Mr. Jones originally sued in November 1998, seeking $1 million over the alleged use of two of his paintings. At the time, he said that he just wanted to get credit for his work. He said that he believed producers saw his paintings on the covers of books dealing with some of the themes of the film -- love, marriage, and the afterlife -- and copied or used them.
The suit later was amended to include two more paintings and twice the damages sought.
The paintings are The Lake, The Lake II, The Lake III and New Dawn. The first depicts a lake surrounded by green hills and snow-covered mountains. A lone figure stands on a rocky ledge in the foreground, overlooking the lake. The second depicts a shadowy figure diving into the lake from the ledge. In the third painting, the figure ascends from the water. The fourth painting shows a waterfall and a golden sky. The paintings appeared on the covers of Conversations With God, books written by Neale Donald Walsch and can be viewed at www.jonesart.com
Joel Ankney and Christian Connell, associates at Mays & Valentine L.L.P., in Virginia Beach, represented Mr. Jones.
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