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Navio Systems Inc. was thrilled when it heard that Danny Glover, Britney Spears and other notables had recorded a video tribute to Pope John Paul II. The Cupertino, Calif., company got a copy of the DVD — a video compilation of celebrity readings of the pope’s prayers — before it went on the market and began offering portions of the recording for download from its Web site. But the Vatican had already given another company the licensing rights. That company, Marstan Associates Ltd., filed a copyright infringement suit last month against Navio and a music promoter it believes supplied Navio with the recording. “My client is shopping a deal for the DVD and wants to give [the buyer] exclusive rights,” said David Given, who represents Marstan Associates, a New York City-based company that acquires licensing rights and arranges for their distribution. “This has put a wrench in it.” Navio isn’t talking about the case. The company referred questions to its lawyer, James DiBoise, a partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati in Palo Alto, Calif. An associate who works with DiBoise said Navio would have no comment. Navio put out a press release in May announcing it had an exclusive downloadable video of the celebrity readings “available for the first time anywhere.” The release included an Internet link to access the video. Given, of San Francisco’s Phillips, Erlewine & Given, said Navio refused to remove the downloadable material until Marstan filed suit last month. Given believes Navio received a copy of the video from music promoter Quadree El-Amin, who is named as a defendant in the suit along with his Los Angeles company, On Q Digital. El-Amin, one-time manager of Janet Jackson and Boyz II Men, has an unlisted phone number and could not be reached for comment. Given said he has been unable to serve El-Amin, who lives in a gated house with closed-circuit video surveillance. Navio said in its May press release that On Q Digital acquired rights to the celebrity tribute “as its entry into the space of digital content distribution.” It’s not clear what Navio’s business model is. The company’s Web site says it provides “solutions” for media companies, mobile carriers and Internet service providers and that its core product “makes it easy to catalog digital goods and to package rights to them.” Given thinks the company sells software that tracks the numbers of Internet downloads, and that by offering the celebrity recordings, Navio was able to get more traffic to its Web site to promote its software. Marstan completed a DVD and CD of “The Prayers of Pope John Paul II” in October. Other artists on the recording include Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, James Earl Jones and ‘N Sync. While celebrity covers of the pope’s prayers won’t make the Billboard Top 40, they clearly have a market. “I’m told [Navio] got hundreds of thousands of hits” to download the video, Given said. “It obviously drove a lot of traffic to their Web site.”

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