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The Legally Controversial History of American Idol

In a latest legal controversy, Phillip Phillips, the American Idol star of Season 11 has sued the show to void his 19 Entertainment contract.

Phillips is the latest in a long line of plaintiffs that have tried to take the show to court but to date, American Idol has remained undefeated.

Among the claims made by former finalists and disgruntled auditioners include racial discrimination, defamation, unfair financial terms and so on.

Back in 2013, Corey Clark, a contestant of Season 2, filed a complaint detailing his dismissal from American Idol. This narrative included an alleged affair with Paula Abdul, one of the Idol judges at that time. According to Clark, his reputation has been damaged and he is suing Fox, E! Entertainment and two law firms Gibson Dunn and Crutcher and Morrison & Forester for invasion of privacy, libel and conspiracy to commit commercial product disparagement.

In another lawsuit filed against the show, ten disqualified American Idol contestants claimed they were the victims of racial discrimination. The contestants argued that producers dig up direct on African-American contestants. The lawsuit was dismissed by a judge.

In 2014, 19 Entertainment filed a lawsuit against Sony Music. They argued that the company had cheated artists Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood and owed them money. The lawsuit claimed that Sony underpays artists and pays them low royalty rates on streaming income and on sale of individual tracks off iTunes. The lawsuit is pending and is in its early stages.

Ian Benardo, also a former contestant of American Idol launched several claims against the show on the grounds of discrimination. His claims did not go very far with the courts but Bernardo claimed he had been sexually harassed and exploited for his flamboyant behavior. The judge ruled against him.

American Idol creator Simon Fuller sued Fox Broadcasting in June, 2011 over the show The X Factor. He alleged that he was entitled to an executive producer credit and fee. Fuller had filed lawsuits previously as well on copyright infringement citing that the two shows had several similarities. The case was resolved quietly.

© 2020 Yulia Vangorodska, Esq., all rights reserved


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