Store hopes to resume selling Reagan Bible tapes

CHICAGO -- A group of businessmen from President Reagan's boyhood home hope to reach an agreement with a national record company so they can continue selling records and tapes of the president reading Bible stories.

U.S. District Judge Marvin Aspen issued a temporary order Wednesday banning the sales at the request of RCA Records, which claimed under a 1954 agreement with Reagan that it has exclusive rights tothe sounds of Reagan's voice reading the Bible passages.


The order, which is set to expire at noon Monday, was issued against Dixon, Ill., Mayor James Dixon, businessman John W. Edmunds, his son John M. Edmunds, J.E.D. Productions Inc. and Nickelodeon Records store in Dixon, the town where Reagan spent his youth.

RCA claimed the recordings, titled 'President Ronald Reagan Reads Stories from the Old Testament,' were pirated from a 1955 recording of Reagan reading eight Bible stories.

John W. Edmunds said he and his partners would like to reach an out-of-court agreement with RCA before Monday's hearing before U.S. District Judge Stanley Roszkowksi. But he said he was not hopeful an agreement would be reached.

'The real problem is RCA is really interested in setting a precedent,' he said.


However, a spokesman for the New York record company said RCA is simply interested in making sure no more records or tapes are distributed from the Dixon store.

'What we are doing is to say stop,' the spokesman said. 'RCA's position is it owns the property rights to its records and its artists. We have a contract with Ronald Reagan going back to 1954.'

The Dixon store began selling the Reagan recordings about four or five weeks ago for $6.98 each, Dixon said.

In newspaper articles accompanying the RCA lawsuit, Dixon claimed RCA's copyright of the material expired in 1980 and that he and his parters were free to copy and sell the material.

But RCA contended that although the copyright had expired, the company still had exclusive rights to the sounds of Reagan's voice reading from the Bible under a 1954 agreement with the former actor.

J.E.D. Productions produced the records and tapes and Dixon and the Edmunds were directors of the company and the record store.

Attorneys for RCA, which claimed J.E.D. already sold 10,000 records and tapes and has orders for 50,000 more, told Aspen that the businessmen agreed last week to voluntarily halt production and sale of the recordings. But the businessmen later reneged and sold 1,200 copies in one day, the attorneys said.


The RCA lawsuit, which asks that the Dixon businessmen be permanently barred from producing or selling the Reagan records and tapes, also seeks $1 million in damages and the profits the wholesale record store has made through the sale of the product.

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