LeBron James, Drake, and Future are facing a $10 million lawsuit over the intellectual property rights to the feature documentary “Black Ice.”
The Exclusive Legal Rights
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the film was created by Uninterrupted Canada and The SpringHill Company, founded by James and his business partner Maverick Carter.
The plot centers on Black hockey players dealing with systemic racism dating back from the Colored Hockey League of the Maritimes to the present-day National Hockey League.
Billy Hunter Takes Legal Action
Ahead of the film’s official release date on Sept. 10, 2022, Billy Hunter, former head of the NBA Players Association and ex-federal prosecutor, is looking for a share of the profits in addition to $10 million in damages in a lawsuit filed in the Manhattan state Supreme Court, The New York Post reports.
Hunter reveals he holds “the exclusive legal rights to produce any film about the Colored Hockey League that existed from 1895 to the 1930s.”
“While the defendants LeBron James, Drake and Maverick Carter [LeBron’s business partner] are internationally known and renowned in their respective fields of basketball and music, it does not afford them the right to steal another’s intellectual property,” said the lawsuit filed by Hunter’s attorney, Larry Hutcher, according to the New York Post.
Hunter's Side Of The Story
Hunter also accuses James, Drake, and their entertainment companies of spearheading a deal with the authors of the book, which the documentary is inspired by, “Black Ice: The Lost History of the Colored Hockey League of the Maritimes, 1895 to 1925,” without his consent.
Hunter states he even paid authors George and Darril Fosty a total of $265,000 for the movie rights to the story. By 2019, Hunter alleges that he also put down $10,000 because he was entering into an “option agreement” for a movie adaptation with Hunter and the Fosty.
Their failure to uphold their end of the agreements has led to them being filed as defendants in the suit.
They are joined by James’ entertainment companies, The Springhill Company and Uninterrupted Canada; Drake’s company, Dreamcrew Entertainment; the Fostys’ publishing firm, Stryker Indigo; First Take Entertainment, a film production company; and Future, as defendants.
“I don’t think they believed the property rights would be litigated. They thought I would go away. They gambled,” Hunter told the New York Post.