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‘The Game’ Facebook Fan Page Sparks Legal War With BET

Devout fans of BET’s hit series “The Game” may have seen this coming, but the rest of the world has been in the dark about a war that has been waging for two years over a Facebook fan page.

On one side of the battle is BET and on the other is Stacey Mattocks, who initially had no affiliation with the series or any of the networks that aired it. In 2008, she created a Facebook fan page to build support for the return of the series, after The CW canceled the show.

Since its creation, the fan page has earned over 6 million ‘Likes’ and is credited for being part of the reason that “The Game” surprised the industry by attracting 7.7 million viewers to its January 2011 premier, eventually becoming the second most-watched series on BET.

Mattocks’ page also drew the attention of BET execs who reportedly began paying her for the work. They then tried to buy the fan page from her, but after she turned down their offer, they may have resorted to strong arm tactics to wrestle control of the page from her.

Here is an excerpt from The Hollywood Reporter who broke the story:

“BET was searching for a more ‘permanent’ way to capitalize on the FB Page and Mattocks’ efforts,” says the lawsuit. “Therefore, on December 15, 2010, BET submitted a proposed contract to Mattocks that would have paid her a maximum of $85,000.00 over a one year period. Mattocks declined this offer because it was unreasonably low, would have stripped her of all rights to the FB Page, and, moreover, could have been terminated at any point by BET, with or without cause.”

The network was “undeterred,” says the plaintiff, and BET “wined-and-dined” her for weeks leading up to the show’s premiere. Mattocks says she was flown out to Los Angeles for promotional interviews, given the “red-carpet treatment” and a screening of the show’s premiere.

By the time the series premiered as the second-most-watched program in BET’s 30-year history, her Facebook page had 3.3 million likes.

According to the complaint, “In newspaper and magazine articles, Mattocks was credited by BET executives for playing a critical role in reviving interest in the Show and making it a massive success with viewers.”

But Mattocks refused to transfer ownership of her Facebook page to BET, and on Feb. 8, 2011, she alleges that Facebook disabled her account.

BET then contacted Facebook to inform the social platform that it had been a “mistake,” says the lawsuit. The account was restored, but the following day, BET allegedly requested that Mattocks provide them with “administrative access.” Mattocks also says she was given a “Letter Agreement,” that provided BET with such access with the assurance that “BET will not change the administrative rights to the Page to exclude you from the Page.”

Mattocks says she executed the agreement fearing that her account would be randomly disabled.

More details are laid out in the THR article, but in short, Stacey Mattocks made money from the page and after reportedly losing income in the whole ordeal, she filed a lawsuit against BET claiming the network committed “tortious interference, breach of contract, breach of good faith and fair dealing, and copyright infringement” violations.

The outcome of this case could be of landmark proportion as the case raises several legal questions about intellectual property vs. the creative elements of fan generated content, as well as whether a big company can confiscate a Facebook fan page they deem too big and powerful to be in the hands of one individual.

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