Residents of Los Angeles, California, are probably used to hearing about legal disputes between television channels, movie studios and individuals such as actors and directors. Over the last few years, a different kind of contract issue has played out between a television fan and the television network Black Entertainment Television.
According to news sources, the woman has filed a lawsuit against BET alleging that the network violated contractual agreements with her. Allegations in the suit include breach of contract, copyright infringement, breach of good faith and tortious interference. According to the plaintiff, BET has caused her to lose access to a Facebook fan page related to one of its shows. The network launched its own page for the show.
The relationship between the plaintiff and BET began after the woman headed a fan effort to revive the defunct show "The Game." The show originally aired on the CW network, but it was canceled. The plaintiff launched a Facebook fan page for the show in part to prove to networks that there was a viable reason to pick the show up.
In 2010, BET picked up "The Game," after seeing that the woman's fan page had millions of "Likes." The BET premiere of "The Game" in 2011 garnered over 7.5 million views. The initial success led to a partnership between the plaintiff and BET. The network paid the woman an hourly wage for her work in social media.
In 2011, BET was granted access to post and manage the woman's Facebook page, though reports indicate that she was to be a part of the effort. According to reports, the network attempted to buy full rights to the Facebook page, but no agreement could be made. This allegedly led to BET freezing the woman out and taking over the social media presence.
Entertainment contracts of any type can be complex, and contracts that involve previous social media or Internet sites can be especially murky. When dealing with companies in the entertainment space, it's essential to understand publishing and copyright law and to ensure that all contracts are specific and detailed for everyone's future protection.
Source: Atlanta Black Star, "Stacey Mattocks Hopes to Prove Her Case Against BET Over 'The Game' Facebook Page" No author given, Nov. 21, 2013