Fans of one of BET's hottest shows The Game draw huge weekly numbers; perhaps not a surprise given the celeb/reality mixture that involves money, strength and sex. It's basically everything your typical cable viewer tunes in for (because it sure as hell isn't the news).
What might be surprising to learn is that the show originated on CW and was cancelled because it bombed. It lay in the cut for awhile until BET revived the show.
But how did it turn from cancelled to major success? No, it wasn't just marketing from BET. It was mostly due to the Facebook efforts of Stacey Mattocks, and she's been hustled right out of her cut of The Game.
Mattocks said she first created a fan page on Facebook in 2008, and by the time BET picked up the show, it had 750,000 "likes." As BET prepared to debut the show, the Facebook page helped create "buzz," and grew at approximately 100,000 likes per week.
For her work, Mattocks says that BET agreed to pay her $30 per hour to work as a social media "freelancer."
But the network wanted more.
"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."
And that is simply the beginning. After Mattocks' account was randomly disabled and BET tried to create their own fan page with little success, Mattocks was forced into a corner and is filing suit.
Again from THR:
That allegedly led BET in August 2012 to send her a letter that attempted to terminate the Letter Agreement, rescind intellectual property rights and cease-and-desist from using BET IP. The cable network is also said to have contacted Facebook and instructed the service to remove her Facebook page, which by then had amassed 6.2 million likes.
The removal of the Facebook page caused Mattocks to lose income, she says. At the time, she had worked out a deal with a company called Sulia that paid her about $2,000 to $3,000 per week, plus $300-$500 in sponsored posts. She says she also got money from Google AdSense and for Amazon referrals.
She's now alleging that BET has committed tortious interference, breach of contract, breach of good faith and fair dealing, and copyright infringement. The latter count is based on the allegation that BET copied elements from her Facebook page onto its own Facebook page. She is represented by attorney Tripp Scott.
The lawsuit obviously raises several great legal questions, including what might constitute a work-for-hire in the social media context, whether creative elements put online constitute derivatives of a show or are independently copyrightable, whether networks can grab control over fan-produced social media assets at any time, whether there's any interference that might come from disrupting online advertising relationships and much, much more!
All that over a Facebook page! It might have just been easier for BET to let this one ride and count their cash after profiting from someone else's work on Facebook. Instead, they'll be involved in a difficult lawsuit with an obviously determined woman.
But, you know what they say: The game is the game.