Defendants awarded Summary Judgment in copyright lawsuit over “Love & Hip Hop” show

Recently, Summary Judgment was entered in favor of the Defendants in a lawsuit brought by a production company over the television show “Love & Hip Hop.”[1] The Plaintiffs filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against the Defendants alleging that the “Love & Hip Hop” show infringed upon a similar concept that was pitched to the Defendants by Plaintiffs.[2] The Plaintiffs’ lawsuit revolves around a one-page Treatment submitted to the Defendants which outlined Plaintiffs’ concept of having a reality television show based upon the lives of four women married to famous Hip Hop artists.[3] Plaintiffs’ Treatment intended for the cast to include the significant others of rappers DMX and Jim Jones and producers Swizz Beats and Irv Gotti.[4] The parties had signed a written agreement for production of Plaintiffs’ television show, but later terminated the agreement after one of the cast members refused to participate.[5] The Defendants subsequently aired the “Love & Hip Hop” reality show, which prompted the Plaintiffs to file a lawsuit.[6]

There have been six seasons of the “Love & Hip Hop” show but the Plaintiffs’ Complaint only focuses on the first season, which included the significant other of Jim Jones.[7] The Court found that the Defendants did have access to Plaintiffs’ Treatment, but noted that the Plaintiffs still had to prove that the two works were substantially similar.[8] The Court ended up finding that the two works were not substantially similar.[9] The Court noted that the majority of the content in Plaintiffs’ Treatment were general concepts of reality television and did not constitute original or protectable matter.[10] The Court specifically highlighted the fact that there were already several reality television shows depicting the lives of celebrity wives, such as the “Real Housewives” series.[11] As a result, the Court granted the Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment.[12] The result of this lawsuit allows the “Love & Hip Hop” show to continue, pending any potential appeal of the decision by Plaintiffs.

Please contact our office if you have any questions regarding the information in this article.

Daniel Devine, Esq.
Santucci Priore, P.L.

[1] See, 8th Wonder Entm’t, LLC v. Viacom Int’l, Inc., No. 14-cv-01748-DDP-JCG, 2016 WL 6882832 at *1 (C.D. Cal. Nov. 22, 2016).
[2] Id.
[3] Id. at *2.
[4] Id. at *1-2.
[5] Id. at *1.
[6] Id.
[7] Id. at *2.
[8] Id. at *4.
[9] Id. at *4-9.
[10] Id. at *5.
[11] Id.
[12] Id. at *9.

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