LeBron James as well as rappers Drake and Future are being sued by a former NBA union boss for $10 million over intellectual property on the movie “Black Ice” about a segregated Canadian hockey team.
Billy Hunter, former head of the NBA Players Association, filed the suit in Manhattan which claims that any intellectual property related to film on the Colored Hockey Leagues from 1895 to the 1930s belong to Hunter.
Hunter, who happens to be a former ex-federal prosecutor, is seeking $10 million in damages as well as a share in the profits from the documentary, according to the New York Post.
“While the defendants LeBron James, Drake, and Maverick Carter [LeBron’s business partner] are internationally known and renowned in their respective fields of basketball and music,” the lawsuit reads. “it does not afford them the right to steal another’s intellectual property.”
The lawsuit alleges that the defendants made a deal behind Hunter’s back with the authors, George and Darril Fosty, of the acclaimed book, “Black Ice: The Lost History of the Colored Hockey League of the Maritimes, 1895 to 1925,” to make the documentary.
“I don’t think they believed the property rights would be litigated,” Hunter explained to The New York Post after he paid the authors $265,000 for the movie rights. “They thought I would go away. They gambled.”
For their part in the scheme, the authors are also listed as defendants for breach of contract with the former head of the NBA Players Association.
The suit also goes after the publishing companies of the authors as well as the entertainment company of James, Drake, and Future.
“The Dreamcrew Defendants’ and Uninterrupted Defendants’ acts were and are intentional and carried out for the purpose of disrupting Plaintiff’s legal rights,” the lawsuit reads. “Each of the Dreamcrew Defendants and Uninterrupted Defendants acted with malice as demonstrated by the inflated price they paid for the duplicate option.”
The Fostys have attempted to argue that the production of the film does not violate the agreement they had with Hunter given that it would be classified as a documentary and not as a movie. The former ex-prosecutor’s attorney Larry Hutcher, however, argued that “a documentary is still a ‘motion picture’ and an ‘audiovisual adaptation’ and any claim to the contrary is absurd and made in bad faith.”
Following the filing of the lawsuit, representatives for James, Drake, and the Fostys had no comment on the case.
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