In a new $10 million lawsuit, both Drake and Future are accused of stealing the “intellectual property rights” to a film titled “Black Ice.”
The film is about an old, segregated Canadian hockey league for black players in Canada. LeBron James, the NBA star, is one of those involved.
Billy Hunter, the former longtime head of the NBA Players Association and a former federal prosecutor, is seeking a cut of the documentary’s profits as well as $10 million in damages in an explosive lawsuit filed in Manhattan state Supreme Court alleging he owns the exclusive legal rights to produce any film about the Colored Hockey League, which existed from 1895 to the 1930s.
According to Larry Hutcher, Hunter’s attorney, even though LeBron James, Drake, and Maverick Carter [LeBron’s business partner] are internationally renowned in their respective professions of basketball and music, this does not give them the right to steal another’s intellectual property.
Hunter accuses four-time NBA champion and MVP LeBron James, “Nice for What” singer and Canadian Drake, and their respective entertainment companies of making a deal behind his back with the authors of the critically acclaimed book “Black Ice: The Lost History of the Colored Hockey League of the Maritimes, 1895 to 1925.”
The authors, George and Darril Fosty, are also named as defendants, citing breach of contract for allegedly violating the agreement granting Hunter the right to produce a film about the black hockey league by negotiating a side deal with Team LeBron and Drake.
According to the lawsuit, Hunter paid the authors $265,000 for the movie rights to the plot.
The documentary, directed by Oscar-nominated director Hubert Davis will be screened at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 10.
Hunter, 79, told The Post that he briefly played professional football in the 1960s:
“I don’t think they believed the property rights would be litigated. They thought I would go away. They gambled.”
Hutcher, Hunter’s attorney, stated in an apparent pun that it is “very ironic” that James and Drake, who “cherish their brands,” would be “so irresponsible” as to violate someone else’s film rights. James’ professional career began with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Hunter, a longtime civil rights activist, said he was drawn to the story of the black-only professional hockey league because it reminded him of the segregated negro professional baseball league in the United States and the civil rights movement to break down the color barrier. Hockey is the national sport of Canada.
“I just said, ‘Wow. That has to be a movie.'”
The lawsuit also names as defendants James’ entertainment companies, The Springhill Company and Uninterrupted Canada, as well as Dreamcrew Entertainment, Drake’s (born Aubrey Graham) and Future’s (legal name Adel Nur) entertainment companies, Stryker Indigo, the Fostys’ publishing firm, and film production company First Take Entertainment.