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Newspaper editor, columnist slapped with copyright infringement lawsuit

Nigel Williams, the former editor-in-chief at the State-owned Guyana Chronicle, and columnist Lincoln Lewis are being sued for copyright infringement. The lawsuit was filed by Village Voice GY Inc., an online news agency where Williams worked as editor-in-chief from June to October 2020.  He was also one of the company’s directors, a position he served in up until March 31, 2021.

Village Voice GY Inc., which is located at Friendship Public Road, East Coast Demerara, is seeking general and punitive damages in excess of $2 million against Williams and Lewis.  It has also asked the Court to assess and award damages against the duo for copyright infringement. It is also asking the High Court to award more than $1 million in damages against Williams for breach of fiduciary duty.

According to court documents seen by this publication, Morris Wilson is a director, secretary, and sole shareholder of the company which states that it is the owner of artistic work ‘Village Voice with a bullhorn image’ combined witty the words “Daily Newspaper Serving Villages Across Guyana”.

After it was incorporated, the company added that it paid for the registration of the domain name www.villagevoicegy.com and created Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter pages and a Gmail account. However, the company is claiming that sometime between October 2020, and April 2021, Williams conducted business using the company’s logo for which he was not given permission.

According to Village Voice GY Inc., Lewis has admitted that he is part of a group that is responsible for the publication of “The Village Voice News” in print and digitally. Taking this into consideration, the company contends that Williams and Lewis have infringed on its copyright by issuing a work entitled “Village Voice” and by selling or offering for sale a printed newspaper called “Village Voice News”.

The company is claiming that since April 4, 2021, Williams and Lewis have passed off “Village Voice News” as “Village Voice GY” with posts made on villagevoicenews.com where several images are bearing “Village Voice GY”, falsely indicating that they are associated with “Village Voice News”.

In this regard, Village Voice GY Inc., through its lawyer Teni Housty is asking the High Court to declare that Williams had Lewis have infringed the copyright of its artistic work “Village Voice”.

Apart from this, the news agency is also seeking an injunction restraining Williams and Lewis, their employees, or agents from advertising, dealing with, copying, or reproducing in any material form selling, advertising for sale, offering for sale, or issuing to the public copies of its artistic work “Village Voice” or any substantial part of it.