Jewish Educational Media (JEM) has filed a lawsuit in New York’s Eastern District Court against RebbeDrive over alleged copyright infringement.
According to court documents in Jewish Educational Media, Inc. v. Mintz et al, JEM served court papers to Shmuly Butler and Mendel Mintz this past Tuesday, alleging that they, as operators of RebbeDrive.com, pirated photos and audiovisual material from JEM’s archives and provided them to third-party websites.
The story behind some of these materials is reported to be a library of videos discovered from WLCC, which videoed and broadcasted the Rebbe’s Farbrengens. These videos had been secretly recorded by one of the people working with the original broadcasts, but had not been watermarked with the WLCC logo.
Once in the hands of RebbeDrive, they began releasing the unedited footage under their own logo.
In past conversations with CrownHeights.info, Mintz defended the use and dissemination of these materials by claiming that according to halacha, a person can not copywrite the Rebbe’s Torah, as well as any image or media of him.
JEM on the other hand, claims that they had purchased full rights to the entire WLCC archive, including copywrite infringement.
In the court documents, JEM alleges that the operators of RebbeDrive acquired their illicit materials through other means, including simply cropping the JEM logo from video’s and images before superimposing their own.
According to the complaint filed by JEM, they had initially attempted to find an amicable solution through dialogue as early as 2016, requesting that those running RebbeDrive remove the copywritten content. After months of correspondence, the sides met up in March of 2017, but could not come to an agreement.
The issue was then brought in front of the Beis Din of the Central Committee of Chabad-Lubavitch Rabbis in the United States and Canada, which the operators of RebbeDrive ultimately claimed had no jurisdiction over the case.
Given permission to go to civil court by the Beis Din, JEM is looking to receive repayment for damages as well as the taking down of the RebbeDrive website and social media accounts.Complaint