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Kanye West and Kim Kardashian West Settle With YouTube Co-founder

By Kelechi Ajoku

A lawsuit brought by Kanye West and Kim Kardashian against YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley was recently settled for $440,000. This settlement may challenge members of the media to think twice before violating the privacy rights of celebrities, especially if contractual agreements are involved.

In October 2013, Chad Hurley allegedly breached a confidentiality agreement by leaking footage of Kanye West's proposal to Kim Kardashian at AT&T Park. West rented the entire San Francisco Giants' stadium for the private event with friends and family, making the proposal unavailable to the public. The few guests who were present, Hurley being one of them, were required to sign confidentiality agreements. In the lawsuit, the couple alleged that the confidentiality agreement granted them exclusive property rights to the images, which were intended to be aired on the "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" E! series. (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-3051091/Kim-Kardashian-Kanye-West-video-leak-lawsuit-proceed.html). According to West and Kardashian, Hurley manipulated his way into AT&T Park with the intention to broadcast the footage despite signing the agreement. (http://www.eonline.com/news/690562/kim-kardashian-kanye-west-win-440-000-settlement-after-filing-lawsuit-over-leaked-proposal-video). Hurley responded that the confidentiality agreement was not binding on MixBit, his privately owned website to which he posted the footage, and therefore essentially not in violation of the agreement. (http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/gossip/kimye-lawsuit-youtube-co-founder-proceed-article-1.2195630).

The lower court held that the couple showed a plausible claim for breach of contract, fraud, and unjust enrichment. Although the Second Circuit upheld the ruling, West and Kardashian later agreed to settle the lawsuit.

While representatives of the media may have the right to photograph and videotape celebrities, when legally binding confidentiality agreements are involved, the courts decisions show that they should adhere to such agreements or risk lawsuits. Members of the media often photograph and videotape public figures, without the celebrities' knowledge, and post the images on websites, magazines and in other forms of media outlets. As public figures, there is a lessor expectation of privacy than non-public figures, and, therefore, usually little to no consequences for those capturing and disseminating the images and videos. However, when efforts are taken to secure privacy by enforcing confidentiality agreements and/or other measures, it is likely that such contracts will be legally binding.

Regardless of whether Kardashian allows the world into her private life by broadcasting it via the "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" series, her proposal was intended to be private and confidential until it was aired on her terms. Therefore, members of the media should take precautions in the future to avoid any legal problems associated with legally binding confidentiality agreements, and we may now see more celebrities using such agreements as a protective tool.

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