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Lebron James and Drake have teamed up to produce a new documentary about Black, Canadian hockey players called Black Ice.
Even before most of us have gotten a chance to see it (or completely ignore it), the two are facing a lawsuit.
The suit, which was filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, accuses them of stealing the “intellectual property rights” to the story.
Billy Hunter, the former head of the NBA Players Association, is the one filing the suit. Hunter — who was also a federal prosecutor — is seeking a cut of the film’s revenue in addition to $10 million in damages.
The suit alleges that LeBron, Drake, and their respective entertainment companies worked a deal with George and Darril Fosty, the authors responsible for the book that the documentary is based on, Black Ice: The Lost History of the Colored Hockey League of the Maritimes, 1895 to 1925.
The book is about the Colored Hockey League of the Maritimes, or CHL. which operated from the late 19th century through the 1920s.
He claims that the authors violated a contract he made with them for $265,000 for the film right to the book, and make another deal with James and Drake.
Does The LeBron/Drake Documentary Count As An Audiovisual Adaptation?
We’ve got ourselves a court battle that’s going to come down to semantics.
Hunter says that the deal he struck for the book’s movie rights included exclusivity to all audiovisual adaptations of the story.
The Fosty’s claim that the documentary didn’t violate Hunter’s deal.
“A documentary is still a ‘motion picture’ and an ‘audiovisual adaptation’ and any claim to the contrary is absurd and made in bad faith,” Hunter’s attorney Larry Hutcher wrote in the suit.
Hunter paid the Fostys $250,000 in February of this year. That was in addition to a $10,000 downpayment for the exclusive rights.
Hunter’s suit alleges that LeBron’s entertainment company Uninterrupted Canada offered the authors $100,00 and 3% of the film’s budget in compensation.
Black Ice will cover more than just the CHL. It features interviews with current NHLers including Wayne Simmonds, Matt Dumba, Anthony DuClair, and P.K. Subban, as well as Canadian Women’s National Team player Sarah Nurse.
Follow on Twitter: @Matt_Reigle