All-Star Concert to End Global Poverty Brings Lawsuit Over Video Footage

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This year's Global Citizen festival will unfortunately incur legal costs. Ahead of Saturday's concert in Central Park, New York, a lawsuit has been filed against organizers by a company that claims the contractual right to exploit video footage and says it has been cut out of the picture.

The concert is expected to draw 60,000 and features such performers as Stevie Wonder, Green Day and The Killers. It's to be broadcast on MSNBC and the event is being held to further Global Citizen's mission to end global poverty.

In a complaint filed in New York Supreme Court on Thursday, Mammoth Entertainment says it was approached after last year's concert to help turn video footage of performances by Rihanna, Metallica, Jay-Z, Coldplay and other acts into short-form and long-form documentaries.

Mammoth says it enlisted Verizon, Hearst Media and Complex Media to fund and then distribute content. Hugh Jackman was brought on board to narrate, and earlier this month, the announcement came of the release of Louder Together: A Global Citizen Documentary — New York to Mumbai.

The plaintiff complains that despite conceiving and developing the film, it got no credit.

What's more, Mammoth alleges that its deal is "evergreen" and renewed each year for every subsequent Global Citizen music festival. Mammoth adds that it has satisfied its own obligations.

"However, as the months progressed, GC began to invent issues and concerns with the Agreement, which GC had failed to raise in the past, in an attempt to stall and avoid its performance of its obligations pursuant to the Agreement while improperly reaping the benefits thereof," states the complaint. "GC had no right to use the financing that Mammoth secured as a basis for their bad faith attempts to delay their performance of their obligations pursuant to the Agreement or to attempt to change the terms of the Agreement."

Mammoth reports that Global Citizen has tried to terminate the agreement while directly engaging with Verizon.

"The fact that GC acted in bad faith by negotiating directly with Verizon, in order to exclude Mammoth from a deal that Mammoth had created and structured, was not only a violation of explicit terms of the Agreement, but also a violation of the implied contractual obligations of good faith and fair dealing," continues the complaint.

Mammoth says the agreement entitles it to 10 percent of the gross production budget, sponsorship fee and ownership revenue, but that it hasn't been paid what it alleges is $53,410 in owed money. The plaintiff also alleges that it has been granted worldwide, exclusive rights to exploit content, but that it is being blocked from enjoying this.

The lawsuit demands $500,000 in consequential damages and $1 million in punitive damages plus an order requiring Global Citizen to provide credit, editorial input, and 10 percent of monies flowing from the concert video footage. Additionally, Mammoth looks to prohibit the charity from further exploiting content and entering into any further economic arrangements with Verizon, Hearst and Complex.

In response to a prelitigation letter, Global Citizen and Skadden Arps attorney Kenneth Plevan wrote that the breach of contract claim was "completely misguided."

He wrote that the contract was structured as a "shopping arrangement" where Mammoth needed to satisfy preconditions to represent Global Citizen.

"As of the date Global Citizen gave notice of termination (February 28, 2017), Mammoth had not secured either financing or distribution, and thus failed to meet the Conditions Precedent," states the letter. "The termination accordingly was proper because said paragraph expressly gave Global Citizen a right to terminate in Global Citizen's 'sole discretion at any time.'"

Plevan also added that Mammoth only had a "non-exclusive" right to try to put a deal together.