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Judge rules on contract case involving Florida woman and BET

Late last year we wrote a post on a breach of contract lawsuit filed by a Florida woman against the Black Entertainment Television network. The contract between the woman and the television network involved the woman’s maintenance of a Facebook page that promoted the television show, “The Game.” A federal judge in Florida recently ruled in the matter. He found in favor of the network.

After starting the page independently, BET sought to gain sole control of it. When the parties could not reach an agreement on that matter they struck a deal where the woman worked for the network, maintaining the page as a freelancer.

Eventually the business relationship fell apart and the woman disabled the network’s access to the page. The network started its own page and the page the woman maintained was removed. She then sued the channel for:

  • Unlawful conversion.
  • Copyright infringement.
  • Breach of good faith and fair dealing.
  • Breach of contract.
  • Tortious interference. 

One of the things at issue was the value of the Facebook “likes” the page accumulated and who owned them. Ultimately the U.S. District Judge deemed that the woman could not establish that she owned property interest in the “likes.” Further because a person who “likes” a page can easily undo it making the user the actual owner of the “like”, they are not convertible in the way that other intangible business interests are. In addition, the court determined that because the woman removed BET’s access to the page before the network sought to have it removed, the breach of contract claims were not valid.

Litigation is a reality where most businesses are concerned. Whatever the nature of the claims against a business it is important to build a case. Doing so could result in a positive outcome such as the one experienced by BET in this case.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter, “A Florida judge says Facebook likes aren't the property of page creators,” Eriq Gardner, Aug. 20, 2014

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