September 30, 2022
LeBron James, Drake sued for M over hockey movie ‘Black Ice’ rights

Hoops star LeBron James and rappers Drake & Future have been charged in a new $10 million lawsuit of stealing the “intellectual property rights” of a film – “Black Ice” – old, for black players in Canada. About separate hockey leagues, The Post learned.

Billy Hunter, the former longtime head of the NBA Players Association and ex-federal prosecutor, is seeking profits from the documentary as well as $10 million in damages in an explosive complaint filed in the Manhattan State Supreme Court, alleging that they have special rights. The legal right to make any film about the Colored Hockey League that existed from 1895 to the 1930s.

“While defendants LeBron James, Drake and Maverick Carter [LeBron’s business partner] are internationally renowned and well-known in their respective fields of basketball and music, this does not give them the right to steal another’s intellectual property,” said the lawsuit filed by Hunter’s attorney, Larry Hutcher.

In the lawsuit, Hunter accused the defendants, including four-time NBA champion and MVP James and the “Nice for What” singer and Canadian Drake and his entertainment companies, of being behind his back with the authors of the critically acclaimed book. Bargain Bites that is based on the documentary – “Black Ice: The Lost History of the Colored Hockey League of the Maritimes, 1895 to 1925.”

Billy Hunter.
Billy Hunter alleges that he has the exclusive legal right to produce any film about the Colored Hockey League that existed from 1895 to the 1930s.
Seth Wenig / AP

The writers, George and Darryl Fosti, are also listed as defendants, citing breach of contract to give Hunter the rights to make a film on the Black Hockey League and instead a side deal with teammates LeBron and Drake. cited for breach of agreement.

The suit says Hunter paid the writers a total of $265,000 for the movie rights to the story.

Documentary being produced by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Hubert Davis featured in Toronto International Film Festival on September 10.

“I don’t think he believed the property rights would be prosecuted. He thought I would be gone. He gambled,” Hunter, 79, who also played professional football for some time in the 1960s, told the BBC. told the post.

view from "Black Ice."
“Black Ice” follows the story of an old, segregated hockey league for black players in Canada.
Seamless Canada
LeBron and Drake.
Billy Hunter accused LeBron James and Drake of cutting a deal behind their backs with the authors of the critically acclaimed book on which the documentary is based.
George Pimentel / Getty Images

In a possible play on words, Hunter’s attorney, Hutcher, said it was “extremely ironic” that James and Drake, who “cherish their brands,” would be “so arrogant” to infringe on someone else’s film rights. . James began his career with the Cleveland Cavaliers in his hometown.

A longtime civil rights activist, Hunter, who is black, said he was simply fascinated by the story of the black-only professional hockey league, which is reminiscent of the separate Negro professional baseball leagues in the United States and civil rights. Push the colors to break the barrier. , Hockey is the national sport of Canada.

“I just said, ‘Wow. That must be a movie,'” he said.

The lawsuit listed James’ entertainment companies – The Springhill Company and Uninterrupted Canada – as defendants, Dreamcrew Entertainment, Drake’s entertainment firm, whose birth name is Aubrey Graham, and Future (legal name Adele Noor) and Faustis Publishing. Is. Firm, Striker Indigo and First Tech Entertainment, a film production company.

"Black Ice."
Directed by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Hubert Davis, “Black Ice” is being screened at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 10.
Seamless Canada

The complaint alleges that when Hunter confronted the writers after hearing a separate “Black Ice” film deal with James and Drake, Fausty “specifically claimed” that the “competitive venture” had led to his “exclusive” worldwide license” or film rights because the “documentary” was different and did not violate the agreement.

“A documentary is still a ‘motion picture’ and an ‘audiovisual adaptation’ and
Any claim to the contrary is absurd and made in bad faith,” Hutcher said in the Hunter suit.

Hunter and Faustice enter a “choice settlement” for a film adaptation
He put down $10,000 for the story “Black Ice” on March 25, 2019.

Billy Hunter.
The suit says Billy Hunter paid the writers a total of $265,000 for the movie rights to the story.
Mary Altaffer / AP

About 18 months later in October 2020, Hunter received a call
George Fosti, who told him that the writers had been approached by other people.
Producers who wanted to make a documentary based on the book “Black Ice” – Vinami Virmani and Scott Moore of First Entertainment.

The First Entertainment representative said in a Zoom call that they were working with James and his Springhill company to acquire the rights to make the “Black Ice” documentary and received partial funding from the Canadian Film Fund for the project.

But Hunter “clearly stated that this was a passion project of his, and he had no interest in selling his exclusive options or any portion of his rights” to anyone else, according to the suit.

Hunter, through his attorney, then sent a breach of contract letter to the defendants on November 1, 2021, after seeing a story in the Canadian press that Drake would be executive producer of the “Black Ice” documentary.

Drake and LeBron.
Writers George and Darryl Fosti argue that the Drake and LeBron James documentary does not violate the film adaptation agreement they had with Billy Hunter.
Vaughn Ridley / NBAE via Getty Images

They paid Faustice $250,000 in February 2022 to retain “exclusive worldwide rights” to any “audiovisual” adaptations of the “Black Ice” story.

The Hunter suit accuses Faustice and his publishing firm of breach of contract and “torture interference” on the James and Drake teams.

The suit says that the “uninhibited defendant” – Team LeBron – offered Faustie $100,000 to acquire the “already optioned” rights to produce a documentary about the “Black Ice” story, and the writers Agreed to pay 3% of the total film budget.

“The uncontested defendants paid those amounts to induce the authors to disband
His settlement with the plaintiffs,” the Hunter suit alleges.

Court papers state that the James team sought the support of additional investors, most notably DreamCrew Entertainment, a co-venture between Drake and Future.

“The Dreamcrew Defenders’ and Uninterrupted Defenders’ Acts Were and Are
intentionally and with the aim of obstructing the legal rights of the plaintiff. The Dreamcrew defendant and the unarmed defendant each acted with malice as demonstrated by the inflated price they paid for the duplicate option,” the Hunter suit claims.

There was no immediate comment from Reps for James, Drake and Faustis and their firms.

Hunter, who lived in Harlem, had a rift with the NBA Players Union. He was ousted in 2013 after serving as the union’s director since 1996, and the two sides reached a confidential settlement after being countered by him on being replaced.

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