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LeBron James and Drake Facing $10M Lawsuit Over IP Rights of ‘Black Ice’ Documentary

Los Angeles Lakers power forward LeBron James and Canadian rapper Drake are in hot waters for stealing intellectual property rights of the hockey documentary “The Black Ice”. The lawsuit has been filed by the former head of the NBA Players Association and ex-federal prosecutor, Billy Hunter who is seeking a portion of the profits from the documentary along with damages to the tune of $10 million.

Hunter Claims Exclusive Legal Rights

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James and “God’s Plan” rapper Drake are facing a $10 million intellectual property infringement lawsuit over the upcoming hockey documentary “The Black Ice”, which is based on the book of the same name. The lawsuit has been filed by Billy Hunter, former head of the NBA Players Association and ex-federal prosecutor.

The aforementioned lawsuit has been filed in the Manhattan state Supreme Court and it has been claimed by Hunter that he holds “the exclusive legal rights to produce any film about the Colored Hockey League” that existed from 1895-the 1930s.

The lawsuit also named Maverick Carter and Future as a defendant. Cater is Jamie’s business partner and we all know who Future is. Billy has prayed for shared profits from the documentary along with damages to the tune of $10 million.

The plaintiff further alleged in his lawsuit that even though LeBron James, Maverick Carter and Drake are internationally renowned in their field of work, ‘it does not afford them the right to steal another’s intellectual property’. Interestingly “The Black Ice” will premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 10. We don’t know yet if this lawsuit will have an impact on the said premiere or not.

The Defendants’ Take On The Suit…

Drake and LeBron James aren’t the only defendants in the lawsuit. Billy Hunter has named Future, Maverick Carter, the Frostys, Drake’s Dreamcrew Entertainment, LeBron’s Entertainment companies, the Frosty’s Stryker Indigo publishing firm and First Take Entertainment as defendants amongst others.

In their defense, the Frostys brought forward an interesting point admitting that even though Hunter holds movie rights, a documentary is a “separate entity” and does not fall within those rights. Hunter alleges that he paid for the “exclusive worldwide rights” to any “audiovisual” adaptation of the story regarding the Colored Hockey League.

Hunter’s lawyer has strongly countered this argument by stating that a documentary still remains a “motion picture” and comes under the ambit of an “audiovisual adaptation”. Well, legally speaking, Hunter is very much right. Such arguments making a documentary a separate entity does seem absurd.

The hockey documentary depicts the real-life events narrated in the book “Black Ice: The Lost History of the Colored Hockey League Of The Maritime (1895-1925), written by Darril Fosty and George. As for the lawsuit, Billy Hunter is confident that the suit would undergo litigation and he has a very strong case.

Billy said in an interview, “They thought I would go away. They gambled.” He is suing for damages and profits for cutting a deal behind his back in the intellectual property rights infringement suit. What do you think? Will this go for litigation? If you ask me, Hunter has a really strong chance of winning it.

I am Mallika Singh, a lawyer and writer by profession. Writing gives me a sense of freedom and independence. I am a keen observer and an ardent reader. When not at work, you can find me at the stable. Horse riding is another passion that keeps me going.


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