Starz has accused MGM in a federal lawsuit of breaching its exclusivity agreement by allowing its library of film and TV shows to run on rival platforms.
In the suit, which was filed on Monday, Starz says an employee noticed that “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” a movie licensed by MGM to Starz, was available on Amazon Prime. The film was supposed to be exclusive to Starz.
Starz said that MGM admitted there was a breach that accidentally allowed more than 200 films and TV shows to run on other platforms. Some of the films were licensed on Epix, MGM’s owned TV network.
“Starz has since learned that MGM’s breach of exclusivity has been happening since at least 2015 without Starz’s knowledge,” the suit said. “Through Starz’s continuing internal review, it has so far identified nearly 100 additional movies (not included on MGM’s list) that appear to have been licensed to third parties during time periods in which Starz enjoyed exclusivity.”
According to the lawsuit, Starz had paid MGM about $70 million under two agreements in 2013 and 2015, which allowed the network to license 585 movies and 176 TV shows.
In a statement provided to TheWrap, a representative for MGM said: “The lawsuit is a transparent effort by Starz to use litigation to deflect attention away from its own competitive shortcomings. Starz is pretending that a routine licensing dispute with MGM, that had no meaningful financial impact, is the cause of Starz’s failure to win in the marketplace. We will vigorously defend against these claims.”
Starz contended that the breach cost Starz financially because it may have turned off potential subscribers and reduced carriage fees. “Starz’ss offerings, which Starz markets as exclusive, were de-valued both by customers and distributors because Starz’s exclusive copyrights were being infringed.”