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Lawsuit alleges song’s copyright infringement

Warren-based group files in federal court

YOUNGSTOWN — A Warren-based gospel music group has filed a federal lawsuit accusing another artist of copyright infringement and invasion of privacy.

The Nevels Sisters — namely Gail Nevels Stringer, Debra Nevels Jordan, Venice Nevels Andrews — plus musician Eddie Howard, are plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed in U.S. Court Northern Ohio District against Dawn A. Richard, Derek Scott Bergheimer and various John Does.

The plaintiffs brought this action, according to the lawsuit, seeking relief for the infringement of copyright in their song and voice recordings of the work “Abundance of Rain.”

The Nevels, musicians and vocalists, on April 6, 1990, created “Abundance of Rain” and published, distributed, sold and publicly performed the works through record sales and live performances.

Stringer and Andrews both live in Warren, Debra Nevels Jordan lives in Austintown and Eddie Howard, a former Warren man, now lives in Miramar, Florida.

Defendants Richard and Bergheimer live in Louisiana and California respectively. Richard is managed by Amy Schmaltz of Monotone Management in Los Angeles. Bergheimer owns DBerg Studios located at 525 S Victory Blvd, Burbank, Calif.

Attempts to contact Richard’s manager, Schmaltz, or Bergheimer’s studio for comment about the allegations have been unsuccessful.

The suit states the Nevels song “Abundance of Rain” from the album “Now Is the Time To Seek The Lord” was recorded in April 1990 at a Toledo, Ohio, sound studio.

According to the lawsuit, in 2019, the defendants are accused of using parts of the recording of the copyrighted work to create a song titled “Sauce” for the album “New Breed.” The infringement appeared in the refrain harmony “Let it fall on me,” according to the lawsuit.

An audio version of the defendants’ adaptation and mimicry of the Nevels Sisters’ work can be found on YouTube, the lawsuit alleges. And, the defendants are continuing to infringe on the Nevels’ rights through internet streaming of “Sauce,” the lawsuit states.

The Nevels claim the defendant’ uses of their work came without authorization, consent or knowledge and without any compensation to them, the lawsuit states. This action has caused the Nevels to lose goodwill and notoriety in the gospel music industry, according to the suit.

The suit asks for monetary damages of $150,000 for each instance the song “Sauce” has been displayed in public plus other damages, including any profits defendants received through the sale of “Sauce.”

The lawsuit accuses the defendants of appropriating the Nevel Sisters’ voices and persona for commercial use without their permission.

The Nevels, who are asking for a civil jury trial, are represented by Bedford attorney George C. Geddes.

The court docket shows that the defendants have not yet responded to the legal action. Federal Judge James S. Gwin and Magistrate Jonathan D. Greenberg have been assigned to the case.

gvogrin@tribtoday.com

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