LOS ANGELES (CN) - The authors and publisher of a book about rock guitarist Randy Rhoads prevailed on all but one count in a fraud and privacy invasion complaint from the guitarist's family.
The California Court of Appeals on Monday overturned a ruling against a motion to strike three of the four defendants and affirmed the motion to strike the fourth.
"The claims the family asserts relating to publication of the book involve only a minuscule amount of the material gathered," Presiding Justice Dennis M. Perluss wrote in the unpublished opinion. "Much of the information regarding Randy was already available in the public domain."
But the Rhoads family can pursue its misappropriation complaint against the four defendants for using unauthorized material, the three-judge panel ruled.
Written by rock writer Steven Rosen and co-author Andrew Klein, the coffee table book titled "Randy Rhoads" was published in 2012 by the Velocity Publishing Group.
Rhoads died at 25 in a March 19, 1982, plane crash while touring with Ozzy Osbourne. The classically trained guitarist co-wrote the hit song "Crazy Train" and is cited by many heavy metal guitarists as a primary influence.
Rhoads' family sued Rosen, Klein, Peter Margolis and Velocity Publishing in December 2012 and accused them of using unauthorized material more than 50 times.
Margolis works in television production and was a former guitar student of Rhoads'. In 2006, he pitched the documentary idea to Rhoads' family and agreed to produce it, Judge Perluss wrote.
While working on the documentary, Margolis asked Klein for help, and the two completed more than 100 interviews and obtained numerous photographs and video clips in two years.
When they saw the documentary's initial version, Rhoads' family said they weren't happy with the quality and were surprised to learn that Margolis had not obtained the releases needed from Osbourne to use his music in the documentary, the judge wrote.
While the documentary underwent additional editing, Rhoads' family said, Margolis and Klein began working on the book without telling the family.
The family said it had given Margolis and Klein access to personal photographs, Rhoads' original music equipment, personal effects, autopsy report and other items. They also introduced the pair to Osbourne and his wife, Sharon, rock star Alice Cooper and others, Perluss wrote.
Rosen interviewed musicians for the documentary, and Margolis and Klein asked him to help with the book. Klein in 2011 sought an endorsement of the book from Rhoads' family and offered to share the proceeds, but they refused, according to Perluss' ruling.
When the book was published a year later, the Rhoads family said it contained transcripts of interviews, photographs and other materials intended for the documentary and sued.
They accused Rosen, Klein, Margolis and Velocity Publishing of fraud, violating rights of publicity, invasion of privacy, misappropriation and unfair competition.
The family sought compensatory and punitive damages, disgorgement of profits, injunctive relief, attorney's fees and legal costs.
The four defendants filed a motion to strike, which the lower court granted for Rosen, based on free speech due to his authorship. The court denied the motion regarding the other three defendants.
Margolis, Klein and Velocity appealed the ruling on their motion to strike, and Rhoads' family appealed the decision granting the motion in regard to Rosen.
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