When companies and artists in Nevada decide to work together, the terms of a contract govern how the relationship moves forward. However, disputes can arise about a contract later on, especially when terms such as non-disclosure, non-disparagement or non-competition are involved. One example of such a dispute is being played out between the estate of late singer Michael Jackson and TV network HBO. Jackson’s estate sued HBO for $100 million after the cable channel aired a documentary entitled “Leaving Neverland,” which focuses on allegations of child abuse and pedophilia against the performer. The documentary focuses on the stories of two men who say they were abused by Jackson during his life.
Jackson’s estate is claiming that HBO’s airing of the documentary violated a 1992 contract between the singer and the network, even though the contract reportedly expired years ago. Representatives say that HBO breached an agreement that allowed it to broadcast footage from “Michael Jackson in Bucharest: The Dangerous Tour” in 1992 on the condition that it not disparage Michael Jackson. However, the network says that the non-disparagement provisions of that contract were no longer valid as “Leaving Neverland” was created and produced long after the contract was terminated.
The lawsuit accuses HBO of breach of contract and “reprehensible disparagement” of the singer. The estate claims that the two men in the film who speak about their experiences of abuse had earlier testified in court that they had not been abused by Jackson, saying that their claims were false and motivated by financial gain.
The case hinges on the interpretation of HBO’s 1992 contract with Jackson and its continuing validity years later. It also highlights the importance of fully understanding contract terms when committing to them. A business law attorney may work with clients to draft accurate and responsible agreements and resolve contract disputes.