After the termination of two of BuzzFeed Video’s popular personalities, BuzzFeed Motion Pictures President Ze Frank published a memo on Monday clarifying the company’s exclusivity and ownership rules.
Politico reported last Wednesday that producer and actor Brittany Ashley and writer, producer and actor Jenny Lorenzo were terminated after appearing in small roles on “Gente-Fied,” a seven-episode web series produced by America Ferrera.
“We’re investing heavily in you, and we do ask for a real commitment in return. Concretely, this means that the work you do while you’re on BuzzFeed’s staff belongs to BuzzFeed, and that you can’t work for other productions without our permission,” Frank wrote. “Being a part of BuzzFeed is a full-time job, with many benefits and opportunities, and as with any full-time job you are expected to be fully committed to your work and collaborating with your colleagues while you are here.”
Citing sources close to the company, Politico reported that Ashley and Lorenzo breached a non-compete clause included in their contracts — which most BuzzFeed Motion Pictures staff are required to sign — that does not allow them to work at competing companies for up to three months after they leave BuzzFeed. But employees told Politico that the clause is “enforced unevenly by management, and that the agreement is vague about what constitutes as a competing project.”
A spokesperson for BuzzFeed declined to comment.
Ashley and Lorenzo were largely involved in bolstering BuzzFeed Video’s content geared toward LGBTQ audiences.
Several former BuzzFeed Motion Pictures staffers criticized the company for its decision to fire Ashley and Lorenzo and highlighted the lack of content ownership that employees are provided.
Laura Zak and Jen Richards — both writers, producers and actors who have appeared in BuzzFeed shorts — also took to Twitter to warn other content creators from getting involved with the company.
— Laura Zak (@la_wa) June 10, 2016