Joe Exotic is suing a songwriter who revealed in media interviews that he was lip-syncing the catchy “I Saw a Tiger” tune in a music video featured in the Netflix documentary about his life.
He accuses songwriter Vince Johnson of copyright infringement because he released an album in 2020 with that song and four other songs.
The former Oklahoma zookeeper was convicted in a 2019 trial for hiring two men to murder his chief critic, Carole Baskin, and for crimes involving his animals. A year later, he became known worldwide after Netflix released “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness”.
He was sentenced to 21 years in prison in January after an appeals court overturned his original sentence. He claims to be innocent and is seeking a new trial based on newly discovered evidence and other grounds.
“I am confident that I will go home,” he said in a press release announcing the charges.
His attorney, John M. Phillips, filed the lawsuit Monday in federal court in Florida. Joe Exotic is seeking hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages and a permanent ban on further “unauthorized use” of his songs.
In the lawsuit, his name is Joseph Maldonado.
Johnson has “admitted that he acted on purpose to take advantage of MALDANADO’s fame after the broadcast of Netflix’s Tiger King; Murder, Mayhem and Madness,” his lawyer said in the lawsuit.
BMG Rights Management LLC, Create Music Group Inc., Rip Roaring Records and Tiger King Publishing were also sued.
In interviews, Johnson, of Vancouver, Washington, said he started writing songs for the zookeeper in 2013. He said a band member, Danny Clinton, who died in 2019, was the lead singer.
“I had no idea he was going to play Milli Vanilli’s songs,” he told Vanity Fair for an article about his involvement. “I was on YouTube one night and happened to watch Joe Exotic. And there he was, lip-syncing and acting like Elvis’ ghost. I called him up. I was hot.”
The lawsuit alleges Johnson has signed agreements transferring the rights to “I Saw a Tiger” and four other songs to Joe Exotic. The lawsuit also alleges that he also signed an agreement to keep his involvement a secret.
The lawsuit alleges that Johnson also falsely claimed he was involved in the song “Here Kitty Kitty.”
Maldonado and Clinton came up with “Here Kitty Kitty” without Johnson’s creative input, according to the lawsuit. The song is about Baskin and the disappearance of her husband, Don Lewis.
Watch the video for ‘I Saw a Tiger’ starring Joe Exotic
This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Joe Exotic Files Federal Lawsuit Over Song Copyright Infringement