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Defamation lawsuit charges Apple, BET, Viacom

updated 09:25 pm EST, Thu December 13, 2007

Apple, Viacom, BET charged

Apple, Viacom and its Black Entertainment Television subsidiary network on Wednesday were named as defendants in a civil lawsuit over defamatory statements made during the promotion and sale of American Gangster, a BET television series currently available for sale via iTunes. The 13-page lawsuit, originally filed on October 10th in Texas, claims that the advertising and promotion of the show incorrectly labeled the plaintiffs James Prince and Thomas Randle as killers, harming both their reputations and their businesses. Prince and Randle seek both preliminary and permanent injunctions to prevent the defendants from publishing, broadcasting or selling the offending American Gangster episode as well as punitive damages for airing the program.

The BET show, which reaches 1.3 million households and has about 1.7 million total viewers, chronicles the rise and fall of the country's most notorious African-American criminals -- which implies that both Prince and Randle were part of that group, the lawsuit says. Though they a not mentioned by name, their photos are shown in the video alongside that of Larry Hoover, a known Chicago gang leader. The greatest offense committed by either of the plaintiffs was by Prince, who was issued a restraining order by a Houston Court after it was claimed that he had arranged the beating of label executive Ronnie Bookman following a dispute.

"During the advertisement program, a photograph of Mr. Prince and Mr. Randle is shown with Mr. Larry Hoover, without their permission, with the narrator stating that they were 'MURDERERS,'" the suit alleges. "Neither Mr. Prince nor Mr. Randle has ever been convicted of felony offenses, let alone murder. Such patently false, inflammatory and defamatory publications have maternally [sic] and substantially harmed the reputation of my clients."

In addition to using the plaintiffs' images without permission, Apple, Viacom, and BET have also allegedly refused to pull the episode or modify the content to protect the identities of the plaintiffs, the lawsuit claims. Furthermore, Apple and the other defendants have purportedly acted with reckless disregard by continuing to air the episode on BET and sell its digital version via iTunes.

None of the companies named in the suit have offered comment on the matter.

by MacNN Staff




  1. Athens

    Joined: Dec 1969



    a real lawsuit that for once I can agree with. BET for making it, Apple for not pulling it. At first when I read it I figured why the h*** are they going after Apple, which became clear at the end of the article. Its so rare these days to see a lawsuit with marrit.

  1. SillyPooh

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Is Apple...

    really liable for content? I don't think so! They provide what the networks give them. If the producers of the show didn't provide them with edited version of the show, why should they be liable?

  1. Terrin

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Most suits have merit

    More lawsuits then not have merit. Creative's lawsuit had merit. Burst's lawsuit had merit. Heck, even the MacDonald ladies lawsuit had merit.

  1. JeffHarris

    Joined: Dec 1969




    If the MacDonald's lawsuit you refer to is the infamous hot coffee one, then THT is one of the finest examples of a BAD lawsuit and a terrible precedent.

    Suing to get someone else to pay for your own STUPIDITY is lower than low.

  1. eldarkus

    Joined: Dec 1969


    re: jeffharris

    I urge you to read the facts of the McDonalds case, cause it did have plenty of merit. I felt the same way.. another BS lawsuit.. until I read the facts!

    One thing not mentioned in the first link was the 81 year old lady originally requested medical bills paid. ($20k) THATS ALL! Yet, McDonalds refused, which is why the case when to court.

    Things are never as cut and dry as they may seem.

  1. kerryb

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Sue my cable company

    If you follow the logic of this suit then my cable company is liable too. ITunes as I see it is delivering content and not in a position to censor it. BET and Viacom are the targets here and the messenger.

  1. UberFu

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Apple is not liable..

    for the content_ They have "explicit" tags on that kind of content_

    [hypothetical] If Hasbro rips off an entrepenuer for a toy idea and then markets it and sells it thru outlets like Wal-Mart - WalMart is not liable for Hasbro's fuckup_ All WalMart knows is that it has a distribution deal with Hasbro - and Hasbro does not have any accord to release toy development background on the products it contracts out to WalMart_

    All Apple would be guilty of is re-selling content [as a distributor] without prior knowledge of any defimation or infringement_

    Besides - this will probably make the episode[s] very popular to some extent just because someone is having a temper-tantrum over it_ So the iTMS downloads should increase a little until it is or not pulled_

    Then it gets exploited across YouTube and DIgg for weeks and weeks and months and months_

    Funny as hell_

  1. dliup

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Cup belongs in cup holder. Hot beverage are hot. Distributors have Indemnification clauses in their contract.

    Talk about morons...

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    hot coffee

    So could you sue someone for running a hot curling iron over your eyes? I mean, sure, no one would think that was smart, but unless someone told me it was really hot and could cause burns to my eyes if I jam it in there, I shouldn't be at fault.

    As for McDonald's woman, if the coffee was dumped/dropped/spilled into her lap, that's one thing. If she put it there, that's another.

    And the reason the coffee is HOT (I know, who would think hot coffee would be hot??) is that so many morons then shove cream and the like into it, cooling it off. If the coffee was just warm, it would become cool, which then no one would buy.

    BTW, this is why I never drink coffee. Personally, I think Starbucks was created just to get me to scold my genitals. But I'm not falling for it! You hear me Howie! It's not going to work, you b******!


    Joined: Dec 1969



    Well I see Apple getting off on this one.

    But I ask anyone here if your would appreciate your photo put on national TV with the label of murderer. And if it happened and the networks refused to pull the false info, what would you do?

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