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‘I have been so exploited:’ Joe Exotic sues musician over copyright infringement

ByJanna Clark, FOX23 NewsOctober 27, 2022 at 4:27 pm CDT

Netflix released “Tiger King” during the height of the pandemic. One of the most talked about topics from the series was Joe Exotic’s music videos. Now, that music is the focus of a federal lawsuit.

Attorneys for Joe Exotic, whose legal name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, filed a 550-page federal lawsuit last month against BMG and Vince Johnson. FOX23 spoke with John Phillips, an attorney on Joe’s legal team, about the lawsuit.

“Joe and this guy, Vince Johnson, corroborated on this music. He had a confidentiality agreement that that essentially said, look, you weren’t a part of this, right? So you’re going to help me, I’m going to pay you. And nobody knows about you,” said Phillips.

“Joe wanted credit. And he bought credit. And yet once Tiger King came about, and Joe went to prison, Vince Johnson came out said, by the way, I wrote all this, I performed all this. And then he sold and made money off of his own songs, despite these contracts, and you can’t do that.”

The federal lawsuit was filed in Florida and accuses Vince Johnson and the other defendants of copyright infringement.

The agreement was signed in 2013 and 2014 when Joe was at the G.W. Zoo in Wynnewood. The songs, “I Saw a Tiger,” “The Sun Says,” “GW and Me,” “Pretty Woman Lover,” and “My First Love” were included in the agreement.

“Look, I’m not getting into the Milli Vanilli of all of it, right. Like, you know, what did Joe sing, what did Vince sing, but the point is, Joe had a contract with Vince to stay quiet,” said Phillips. “And to, you know, to sell his participation or his corroboration in the songs. And yet, you know, “Here Kitty, Kitty,” “I Saw a Tiger,” those songs now are being even performed separately by Vince Johnson. And that’s just completely against the agreement.”

Phillips said Johnson re-recorded the songs after Joe went to prison, and BMG signed a music deal with Johnson.

Joe spoke with FOX23 News from prison. He said he feels that many people have dishonestly profited off his name and face because of the Netflix series.

“Even my husband went and got a manager, and lawyers, and sold my clothes to a museum for money and left me in prison,” said Joe. “I have been so exploited.”

Joe continues to say he’s innocent, and that he never hired Allen Glover to kill Carole Baskin. In January, FOX23 told you that Glover admitted on camera to Joe’s attorneys that he lied on the stand during Joe’s criminal trial.

Joe seems depressed sometimes, but other times he feels upbeat and ready to keep fighting.

“All I want is my freedom back. My life will never be the same, but I should not have to spend one more day in prison,” said Joe. “With Allen’s statement now matching my testimony, this should not even be a federal case. I’ve done nothing wrong.”

FOX23 has not been able to reach Johnson to ask him about the lawsuit. We contacted BMG’s attorneys, and they said they do not want to talk to us.

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